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Revisiting San Francisco's Hotel Landscape: A Fresh Perspective for Meeting Planners

San Francisco, a city often shrouded in misconceptions, presents a unique case study in the realm of hotel markets. As Jan Freitag of CoStar Analytics points out, the prevailing narrative may not do justice to the city’s actual situation. This article takes a closer look at why meeting planners should reconsider the City by the Bay.

Unraveling the Myth: A Personal Exploration of San Francisco

In an effort to move beyond mere statistics, a team from CoStar, including national directors, embarked on a first-hand exploration of San Francisco. Their journey, beginning with a quintessential cable car ride, was an endeavor to understand the city's current state and future prospects. Insights were gleaned from discussions with SF Travel tourism group and the Fairmont Hotel's general manager, providing an in-depth look at the city's tourism and hotel market dynamics.

Challenges and Opportunities: San Francisco's Hotel Market in Focus

Despite facing significant hurdles such as the noticeable absence of office workers downtown, which has inadvertently highlighted the city’s unhoused population, San Francisco's hotel market shows signs of resilience. An afternoon walking tour revealed a quieter downtown than usual, attributed to the holiday week, but not one that matched the negative descriptors often associated with the city.

A City of Contrasts: Observations from the Streets

The exploration uncovered interesting aspects of the city's commercial landscape. Notably, while ground floor retail occupancy varied, luxury brands like Breitling and Hermes were expanding, indicating a market of contrasts. The number of homeless people encountered was comparable to other major cities, dispelling some of the exaggerated perceptions.

Unique Advantages for Meeting Planners

For meeting planners, San Francisco currently presents an unparalleled opportunity. With group room rates only marginally increased from 2019 levels and adjusted for inflation, it offers more affordable options than pre-pandemic times. The city's attributes, including a renovated convention center, ample hotel accommodations, and easy air access, make it an attractive choice for events and conferences.


San Francisco's hotel market, often misunderstood, deserves a second look from meeting planners. The city maintains its allure as a major market destination, now coupled with unique advantages in terms of affordability and accessibility. As Freitag suggests, the best way to overcome preconceived notions is to experience the city firsthand. The journey might just reveal a San Francisco that surprises and delights in equal measure.

Source: Jan Freitag, CoStar, InnoWave Studio

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