Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let's talk about Oracle OpenWorld 2008

No, it's not too early to talk about Oracle OpenWorld 2008.

Actually, there were discussions about Oracle OpenWorld 2008 back in April of 2007.

San Francisco came close to losing its largest convention, Oracle OpenWorld, but kept it here for 2008 after the mayor led a special delegation to meet with the company and offer improved terms, city officials said.

There remains a strong possibility that Oracle will pull the show out of San Francisco within the next few years as it continues to grow, the officials said. A pullout would mean the loss of $60 million per year for the city economy, and about $10 million in annual tax revenues, according to one estimate -- roughly the equivalent of losing the headquarters of a midsized corporation....

[B]oth the CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city's director of convention facilities said Oracle seriously considered a move and that San Francisco risked losing the show for fall 2008.

They said that's what motivated the mayor to lead a 70-person mission to meet with Oracle at the Iron Gate restaurant near its Redwood Shores headquarters, and also what prompted an upgrade to the package of incentives offered to the convention from both the city and its hotels.

"The objective was to save Oracle for 2008," said John Noguchi, director of convention facilities for the City of San Francisco, who attended the meeting. "They were meeting seriously with Chicago and Las Vegas ... We hadn't had a contract signed yet, and we knew they were looking."...

The upgrade offered and, two days later, accepted by Oracle included an additional 3,000 reserved hotel rooms, for a total of 15,000 on the busiest night, and streamlined permitting for the shutdown of Howard Street between the northern and southern wings of the Moscone Convention Center.

The article then talked about the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld 2007.

This November's OpenWorld 2007 has been safely in the bag for at least a year and was never seriously considered threatened.

OpenWorld is expected to draw close to 43,000 people this year, the company said, up from 30,000 or less than five years ago, before Oracle acquired competitors PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems. A similarly large show, stretching perhaps to 45,000 attendees, is expected in 2008.

The show is not San Francisco's largest in terms of attendance, but takes up the most convention center space, being the only one to spill over onto Howard Street. It is widely believed to have the largest economic impact on the city.

The event is so massive that it saturates area hotels and Oracle has to bus attendees to hotels as far north as Petaluma and as far south as Santa Cruz, an Oracle spokesman confirmed. Smaller "breakout meetings" cannot all fit within the convention center and have to be scattered to downtown hotels like the Hilton several blocks away....

[Convention bureau CEO Joe] D'Alessandro said the company is constrained not only by space but pinched by costs. It spent $2 million last year to close down Howard Street and is expected to spend even more this year constructing a special wooden floor along Howard Street. Oracle "cannot afford to keep losing money" on the event, D'Alessandro.

"They have grown tremendously in the last few years and have outgrown San Francisco in many ways," D'Alessandro said. "Our goal is to keep (OpenWorld) here as long as we can but if it continues to grow it is going to literally outgrow San Francisco."

An Oracle spokesman said the company is committed to staying in San Francisco in future years. He added that San Francisco is close to company headquarters, an attractive city to people from outside the area and a convenient destination for attendees flying in from Asia.

As a long-time co-organizer of my own division's annual conference, I can testify that it's MUCH easier to keep your conference close to company headquarters. One year we held it several states away, and it was very difficult. So, even though Vegas certainly has the hotel space, it wouldn't necessarily be all that attractive for Oracle OpenWorld.

And forget Orlando.

And no, Don Burleson, I wasn't able to find out the actual dates of the conference.

[12 NOV 2007 - I KNOW THEM NOW.]

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