As planners, attendee engagement is always top of mind. But before anyone can feel engaged in something—whether it’s a Q&A panel, a team-building activity or a brainstorming session—there is one thing they must feel first: Belonging.
“When inclusivity and belonging are part of the culture around planning events, it creates an atmosphere of acceptance and respect,” says Julie Coker, CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority. “[This] allows for more opportunities for collaboration which can lead to more innovative solutions.” And isn’t that what meetings are all about?
Choosing the right host city for your next gathering can do a lot of heavy lifting. In San Diego, the city’s warm, welcoming spirit is evidenced by the richness of its diverse neighborhoods and communities. Even getting here is easy, with San Diego International Airport located just minutes from downtown.
People from all walks of life feel at home in San Diego, and it’s a feeling that extends to visitors who are in town for a just few days. Inclusivity isn’t just talked about; it’s seen and felt. This allows attendees to let their guard down and get their creative juices flowing. “No matter your background or experience, everyone here is genuinely interested in helping you make the most of your potential,” notes Coker. The city has also been a long-time recipient of a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Equality Index, which measures how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work there.
“San Diego’s rich heritage and vibrant culture foster a strong connection for attendees,” says Coker. And there are so many different ways you can create opportunities for connection when meeting in San Diego. Plan an afternoon in Balboa Park, where sprawling green spaces and walkways are dotted with striking Spanish Colonial architecture and 18 unique museums for attendees to check out. San Diego’s diverse culinary scene also provides delicious opportunities to experience dishes from a variety of cultures. Arrange for a tasting tour filled with fresh local seafood or cross-border favorites or both. Few things bring people together like a shared meal, and this city is filled with multicultural food trucks, neighborhood cafes, craft breweries and high-end restaurants that offer something for everyone.
“Furthermore, incorporating local vendors into your event allows attendees to engage with businesses that embody the spirit of the city they are in,” suggests Coker. The Tourism Accelerator Program—the first of its kind in the tourism industry and now entering its second year—can even help connect you with businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and those in the LGBTQ+ community, offering more diverse products and experiences from which to choose.
Funded in part with City of San Diego Tourism Marketing District Assessment Funds.