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Ensuring their event is welcoming to all attendees is a key priority for planners of a wide variety of meetings and conferences. Critical to doing this is a strong destination partner who can help make it easy to create a sense of inclusiveness for visitors from the moment they arrive.
One place that has been a model destination when it comes to inclusion at events is San Francisco — both in its historic commitment to diversity and more recent initiatives. To discuss how the city continues to set the standard for inclusion for events, we spoke with Nicole Rogers, executive vice president and chief sales officer of the San Francisco Travel Association. She shared how the organization works with planners, and Visit California more broadly, to cultivate a sense of openness for their gatherings. Highlights of that conversation are below.
California, and San Francisco particularly, has an incredibly diverse population as well as initiatives that support inclusivity. How does that help to make the state even more attractive for meeting planners and groups?
California is one of the most diverse states in the U.S. and is known for its open mindedness and inclusivity. This is woven into the fabric of the state and makes it a welcoming and attractive destination for groups. California’s progressive outlook champions inclusivity and diversity, and meeting planners know this means attendees will feel warmly welcome and at ease.
What are some examples of San Francisco’s inclusivity, specifically?
San Francisco is known around the world as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities and for its welcoming spirit. So many “firsts” have occurred here, and the city continues to lead in championing diversity and inclusivity. For example, San Francisco’s legally recognized Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District and Transgender Cultural District are both firsts globally, and just recently the city’s 10th cultural district recognizing Pacific Islanders was approved.
At San Francisco Travel, we are constantly working to keep inclusion at the forefront of meetings and tourism through initiatives such as our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Council, which meets monthly to explore ways we can be more inclusive and diverse in marketing and sales efforts, internal operations and ensure DEIA is top of mind. We also are working with a variety of association groups to get a deeper understanding of what groups are considering in terms of DEIA, so that we stay aligned with what we need to do better. The DEIA council is also comprised of external stakeholders from the tourism industry so we have their perspectives and those from the wide variety of meeting planners and clients they work with.
Why is DEI so important in today's MICE segment?
Meetings attendees are diverse and come from all over the world. It’s important when attendees arrive at an event or meeting destination that they find a welcoming and inclusive environment that is conducive to their having a great overall experience.
How can San Francisco Travel help planners looking to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for their events?
Among the ways planners can leverage our offerings to elevate their meeting’s sense of welcome is to:
- Utilize SF Travel website which highlights all the different communities, groups and diverse venues that are available to all our visitors and guests.
- Share needs and wants with SF Travel sales personnel to receive a “customized” proposal that will include suggestions and information based on the group’s interests.
- SF Travel can put meeting planners in touch with our members and offer assistance with permitting and other needs through our relationship with the city of San Francisco.