Corporate Events in the Bay Area: What You Need to Know

Corporate event planning can take some insider knowledge. As with any city, being a corporate event planner in San Francisco requires an understanding of local quirks. Without a guide to help you craft smart goals for your gathering, it can be tricky to see the results you want.


Headcount is Key

One thing many event planning companies in San Francisco might not realize that is that headcount in this city is the most important question that can be asked. Why? Because San Francisco doesn’t hold the same number of large event venues as other cities, say New York or Las Vegas.

Head counts Up to 500 Attendees

If you’re looking to throw a corporate event for under 300 people, you’re in luck, there are lots of great venues to choose from. But once that guest list creeps into the 400 or 500 range, there’s limited venue options that can accommodate.

This is especially true if your corporate event is a multi-track event; most hotels can offer multi-track conferences for smaller groups, but around the 400-attendee mark, options begin to thin. We typically guide our clients to the right venue, and can even prompt them to make schedule changes or flex dates if we know that their guest list will his this competitive middle-mark.

Head counts Over 500 Attendees

Once your guest list grows into the 500 or 1,000 attendee mark, your events team will have to look into building out a space for you. San Francisco offers several great raw event spaces including the Piers, Palace of Fine Arts and Moscone Center.

But you should know, if you’re looking to custom build out a space, the budget of your event needs to expand accordingly. It’s common for event planners in San Francisco to need $1.5 million or more in the budget to transform a raw space into a vibrant, custom event for your large guest list.

San Francisco Events at Moscone Center Have Strings Attached

Another item most corporate event planning companies might not realize is that the Moscone Center isn’t always a great fit for in-town conferences.

The Moscone Center requires San Francisco event planning companies to additionally book 1400 hotel nights on the peak night of the conference. If your event is a single day or one evening event for an internal team that is located in the city, the Moscone Center might not be the best fit for your company. Alternatively, if your team is looking at coming into the San Francisco, being able to book 1400 hotel nights could offer convenience, and access to this state of the art event facility!

Event Planners in San Francisco Know this is a Union City

A final thing that many top event planning companies don’t realize when bringing their event to San Francisco is that this city is a Union city. What does that mean? That many of our venues are “Union venues” and require that your team use their preferred or exclusive vendors for things like AV, power, or lighting. This can mean that your budget line item just got much more expensive, and can be a surprise for those planning on saving by bringing in their own AV team.

Additionally, working with a Union venue can mean additional considerations for the workers at your events. Your event workers will need regulated breaks and meal plans, along with what some venues call a “San Francisco prevailing wage” for crew wages.

This means that these venues are ensuring their workers get meals, breaks on time, and get paid a wage that is appropriate for them to live in the Bay Area. Cities in the Bay Area currently claim the top 3 spots for “Most Expensive City in the Country,” so offering a San Francisco prevailing wage can feel pricey for those used to an out-of-town budget for their event or conference.

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Bay Area Prices for Bay Area Corporate Events

The final item that good corporate event planning companies in San Francisco will know is your budget needs to expand when compared to other cities. For our clients who do “roadshows” with their events, we often advise a 30% increase of budget over other cities. This is because of the competitive resources, lack of infrastructure for large scale conferences and higher cost of expenses in this very expensive city.

Are you planning an event in San Francisco and
need professionals to help you keep it stylish and yet still strategic?

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Bash Creative is an event planning company that specializes in incredible gatherings that go beyond just great design. We’re known for teasing out smart goals for your event and serve up a stylish execution that will keep your guests buzzing. Located in San Francisco, but often found in New York, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, and beyond.