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Ask an Expert Calanit Atia
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Ask An Expert: San Jose Takes Convention Experience to the Next Level

by Calanit Atia

With 300 days of sunshine annually and as an incredibly clean, safe and walkable city with farm-to-fork delights, and craft breweries, the San Jose McEnery Convention Center is a place you should consider for your next event.

San Jose is truly a beautiful and clean city. It is large but still feels very intimate and safe, everything is within walking distance from the convention center: hotels, restaurants, venues, breweries and a small park to enjoy the beautiful weather.

San-Jose-McEnery-Convention-Center-HERO-Day-OPTThe San Jose McEnery Convention Center is Silicon Valley’s largest premier event space with more than 500,000 square feet, 143,000 column-free exhibit space and one stop shop of branding, the best free wi-fi service experience in the nation, state of the art technology and audio/video capabilities, and unconventional cuisine from its in-house catering team.

They also offer event and registration staffing, convention housing, ground transportation coordination, offsite event management, welcome volunteers and public relations services. More importantly, the convention center owns the city branding, which is very unique, so they are able to assist with advertising opportunities around the city and the airport, which is only a 10 minute drive from the convention center.

San-Jose-McEnery-Convention-Center-over-Cesar-Chavez-Park-Ask-An-Expert-column-“San Jose, the epicenter of Silicon Valley, is home to the world’s largest concentration of technology expertise, and like many of the tech headquarters in San Jose, our downtown has a walkable core and a campus-like feel,” according to Cheryl Little, CMP, director of sales and destination services, adding, “We have four historic theaters for unique breakouts and intimate events—the Montgomery Theater, the California Theatre, San Jose Civic Center for Performing Arts and our partner venue, The Tech Interactive.”

Furthermore, the San Jose Marriott and Hilton San Jose have direct access through sliding doors to the convention center, and the Fairmont San Jose and Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown are both just a five minute walk.

“With all major brand hotels surrounding the convention center your group has an opportunity to own the city from branding at the airport to the downtown core,” says Little. “Also, Team San Jose, our destination experts, and your point person from the sales and booking process, can book your entire event in San Jose.”

In regard to the food and beverage department, the most remarkable aspect about this venue is that the catering is in-house, which is very rare. The quality of the food is noticeable with the first bite—since they use mostly local farms you can taste the freshness of the food. With in-house catering, their goal is to interact with the clients, create custom menus and get away from the order-taking process of template menus, which clients normally receive at convention centers.

“My arrival to the organization was clear as set by our CEO & COO on their vision to set a path for the role of food and beverage,” says James MK Te’o, director of food and beverage and sommelier. “Have the food and beverage make a statement. Our focus is a philosophy based on flexibility, innovation and the continued debate of challenging the status quo while being culturally sensitive to the menu process. This allows the philosophy to guide the organization that lends to client flexibility, which creates a story line that is unique to each of our customers. We really engage our clients; this year 72 percent of the menus were custom made. It creates scenarios to never have the same thought process, to debate and create.”

Te’o adds, “the team responsible to lead this philosophy is passionate in their specific genres. Individuals selected come with years of training to get the skill that is needed. Many came from ultra luxury hotels, luxury and lifestyle destination resorts, Michelin-rated restaurants, Forbes Service Standard Organizations, well-known wineries and boutique catering.”

“Lastly, we approach this philosophy as humble servants,” he explains. “We understand our role and responsibility to our guests, clients and our fellow team members: Always provide and be the best in what we do. We protect our craft and this responsibility through the approach of Kaizen. In this pursuit we hope to ‘Change the Conversation.’ ”

I recommend taking a short drive to Testarossa Winery for an intimate dinner with incredible wine in a private cellar, or Santana Row, the Rodeo Drive of Silicon Valley, where you can splurge on designer brands and visit the flagship Tesla showroom. Also, you are close to the infamous Winchester Mystery House. About two or three hours drive away from the iconic Highway 1 offers breathtaking views of the Monterey Peninsula in California and the scenic road Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive. For more info, visit SanJose.org.

Calanit Atia is an award-winning event planner, exhibit management expert, the founder and president of A to Z Events and Trade Show Talent, a Las Vegas destination expert, Air Force veteran and speaker. Contact her at Info@AtoZevents.com

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 20. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust_2019_web


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