It's been more than 20 years since Washington, D.C.-based Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International met in Los Angeles, but that changed this June, when BOMA held its 107th annual convention and trade show for 3,200 global attendees in downtown. So, what made BOMA take another look at L.A. after all those years?
"What really intrigued us about Los Angeles was when we attended the American Society of Association Executives convention in 2010," says Amy Chisholm, CAE, CMP, BOMA's vice president of education and meetings. "We were really impressed by what we saw. L.A. Live was all brand new. Previous to that, there wasn't anything in downtown L.A. near the convention center, so you had to stay far away and bus everyone in. With all the new developments there, we were really impressed."
Downtown's continuing revitalization includes the addition of the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live (BOMA's 2015 headquarters hotel) and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, as well as a number of exciting new restaurants. Chisholm says that the variety of accommodations and attractions helped make this year's event the biggest since the recession. "It was the most-attended conference since 2007, and we had a record number of booth sales this year," she says. "Our attendees really did enjoy being in downtown L.A. and being able to walk to the convention center."
Chisholm's advice to other planners? "If you haven't been there recently, you really need to go and check it out. There are plenty of things to do outside of conference and trade-show hours within the immediate area now."
Downtown is just one part of the greater L.A. area that is growing in popularity with meeting groups. On the border of L.A. and Orange counties, the city of Long Beach, CA is also seeing a boom in its group business.
Since opening its technologically groundbreaking Pacific Room at the Long Beach Arena in 2013, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center continues to innovate and update. In the Promenade section of the convention center, new carpeting, artwork, mirrors, and lighting have been added to meeting rooms, and the food court is also being renovated. The center will also have a new permanent bar selling premium wine and craft beers in the lobby.
"Turnkey" LED stage lighting is being added to the Terrace Theater lobby and plaza, and the Center Theater entrance is receiving a "TED-style" makeover with new seating and a lighted glass wall. The outdoor entrance to the Pacific Room is also being converted into a new special events venue. The porte cochere entrance underneath the Terrace Theater is being transformed into a new special events space with new chandeliers, LED lighting, and two new contemporary art murals.
Questions or comments? Email [email protected]
This article appears in the September 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.