From Martin Zimelis, SHARE® Board Member
Sacramento is fast approaching and some people may be asking, “Why are we going to Sacramento?” In fact, the more general question is, “Why are we no longer going to the big cities?” The answer is quite simple: We want to ensure the right value for our attendees.
Each year, we work to ensure that the costs to travel and stay for our two SHARE events don’t become cost prohibitive for attendees. After all, why have all these great presentations and speakers if no one is there to benefit from it?
So, how do we choose the cities we’ve been going to lately? The “attendee experience” is paramount. What goes into this experience? Basically, everything the city has to offer a visitor. It starts with what the hospitality industry refers to as “air lift.” How easy is the city to get to?
Next is the conference venue itself. We need a mix of room sizes to accommodate everything from small breakout sessions to our keynotes and receptions. We also need a large space, like an exhibit hall or ballroom, for the SHARE Technology Exchange.
The hotels must be within walking distance, ideally no more than a block or two, from the meeting venue. And food is also a key element. We look for quick-bite breakfast locations, restaurants where you can have lunch in under an hour and a variety of sit-down dinner places in various price ranges. Proximity to the meeting venue is important, but we stretch the definition of “walking distance” for dinner restaurants to about a half mile.
The host city itself must have some attractions, too. These can vary widely from city to city, so we look for things like cultural, sporting and historical attractions.
Last, but far from least, we look for cities that are safe for the attendees. The neighborhood must be safe for walkers.
So, how does Sacramento stack up? Let’s take a closer look:
The Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is serviced by eight domestic and two international airlines with non-stop service from 32 domestic cities and four international.
Sacramento has a first-class convention center right in the heart of downtown. We’ll be using that, as well as several meeting rooms in the adjacent Hyatt Regency hotel.
We have room blocks in three hotels, two of which—the Hyatt and the Sheraton Grand—are literally across the street from the convention center, and the Residence Inn by Marriott is a block away.
There are a wide variety of restaurants within walking distance of the conference venue and hotels. In addition to the curated list created by this board member, Visit Sacramento also offers a “Badge Program” where participating restaurants offer a discount for people wearing their SHARE conference badges. For details on both, please refer to links from the Attendee Resource page on the SHARE website.
Sacramento has 18 museums within a mile of the convention center, including the Crocker Art Museum, the California State Railroad Museum, and the Wells Fargo History Museum. Within the same radius is the Old Sacramento historical area, which contains restored buildings from the Gold Rush era.
The NBA’s Sacramento Kings basketball team, which plays at the Golden One Center, seven blocks from the convention center, will have two home games just before and during the conference: Thursday, March 9, vs. the Orlando Magic and Wednesday, March 14, vs. the Miami Heat.
In fact, Sacramento is well situated for vacationing before and after the conference with such happenings as:
- Skiing in the Lake Tahoe area, two hours away by car
- California wine country (Napa and Sonoma Valleys), one hour by car
- San Francisco, one and a half hours by car, two hours by train
- Gold Country, one hour by car
- Yosemite National Park, – three hours by car
Now back to that question of why we no longer go to big cities with SHARE events; it’s all about the experience. Given the great attractions, restaurants and accessibility, Sacramento makes for a tremendous location. I assure you that the same criteria will go into each location we choose going forward.