An oceanfront property along the Southern California coast, Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center (LBCEC) is the stuff of event organizers’ dreams: 120 restaurants and bars within walking distance, 400,000-plus square feet of meeting and exhibit space, and budget-friendly event packages planners won’t find anywhere else. LBCEC’s full-service team, vast inventory of lighting, accessories, and furniture, and array of turnkey spaces can add up to significant savings of up to $500,000, depending on the size of the event.
But what makes Long Beach stand out goes beyond cost savings. LBCEC is designed in a manner that encourages casual collisions among attendees throughout any given event, leading individuals to continue conversations sparked by sessions long after they end. In a 2019 trends study commissioned by the PCMA Foundation and Marriott, researchers at consulting firm Fahrenheit 212 spent a year looking at global data about trends shaping the events industry for years to come. LBCEC was ahead of the curve with all five trends identified, which were focused on creativity, collaboration, and community — including the idea of “orchestrated serendipity” when it comes to creating organic connection points throughout the event experience. And these spontaneous moments matter: According to Convene’s white paper on Long Beach’s success in following these trends, one face-to-face conversation is the equivalent in productivity to 34 emails, and moments of conversation between co-workers increase performance by 20 percent, per Susan Pinker, author of The Village Effect.
The 600-foot-long, state-of-the-art Rainbow Bridge is one of LBCEC spaces designed to orchestrate serendipitous connections. It’s a pedestrian bridge built to make it easier to get from one side of the campus to the other, but it serves a dual purpose, offering spaces to stop, chat, and take in the view. The bridge is lit by thousands of dazzling LED lights and its generous width allows room for pop-up activations, high-top tables, fire pits, and more. Another spot ideal for connecting: Terrace Lobby and Plaza. This unique indoor/outdoor space features modular seating, fire pits, programmable dancing fountains, and more, with the flexibility to meet any event’s needs. Because LBCEC has ready-to-use furniture at event organizers’ disposal, room sets built as social pods, interview spaces, or play areas — the center offers ping-pong, foosball, and more for friendly competition — can be arranged throughout the campus at the drop of a hat.
The inaugural American Physiology Summit, held in Long Beach in April 2023 and returning next year, made full use of the LBCEC’s unique spaces and accommodations. “The entire convention center is filled with soft seating areas and lounge spaces and places where you can pull up with friends, sit down, and have a discussion and connect,” said American Physiological Society Executive Director Scott Steen, CAE, FASAE, in a testimonial video. “The convention center is a very unique and special place.”