Red Hat, Meta ditch business conferences at SF’s Moscone Center

Confabs in 2024 and 2025 would have generated 56,000 hotel room nights

Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and Red Hat's Matt Hicks with the Moscone Center at 747 Howard Street
Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and Red Hat's Matt Hicks with the Moscone Center at 747 Howard Street (Getty, Red Hat, Moscone Center)

Red Hat and Meta have scrubbed at least three business conferences at San Francisco’s Moscone Center expected to draw a combined 56,000 hotel room nights.

The moves are a blow to the city’s conference center at 747 Howard Street as it tries to keep up with less expensive venues across the nation that don’t draw negative news about Downtown street conditions, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The SF Travel Association, the city’s tourism bureau that books events at the Moscone Center, has slashed its target goals for Moscone-related hotel room nights through 2030 amid cancellations and slower-than-expected demand.

“2024 continues to be a particularly challenging year for conventions in San Francisco,” Nicole Rogers, SF Travel’s executive vice president and chief sales officer, told the Business Times in an email. “Although 2023 is a robust convention year, 2024 is estimated to actualize about 60 percent of the average.”

“The good news is that every year after 2024 shows steady growth with 2028 and beyond trending to be above 90 percent of average,” she said.

The rosy forecast belies the cancellations by IBM-owned Red Hat and Meta, parent of Facebook, for next year through 2025. It comes as bad news for the city’s battered hotel sector.

The four-day Red Hat conference was expected to draw IT professionals from around the world, good for 20,000 hotel room nights in May 2024 and another 20,000 room nights in June 2025, according to copies of hotel room block logs obtained by the Business Times.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Instead, those conferences will abscond to Denver next year and to Orlando in 2025.

Meta had planned a Meta Business Group Summit 2024 at Moscone Center in March 2024, which it also scrubbed, according to SF Travel. The 2024 event was expected to generate 16,254 hotel room nights.

It’s unclear if a similar summit indicated in hotel room blocks for March 2025 was also nixed.

Rogers said that Red Hat’s decision was not recent and that SF Travel only shared the news with stakeholders, including hoteliers and city officials, late last year. The Red Hat Summit is on the books for 2026, as well as 2028, 2030 and 2032.

Taking over Red Hat’s slot in early May 2024 is one of the year’s biggest events, the cybersecurity-focused RSA Conference, forecast for 47,500 hotel room nights the week of May 6 to May 9.

SF Travel confirmed other major conferences are headed toward San Francisco next spring, including a Game Developer’s Conference, for 39,840 room nights, and Salesforce’s TrailblazerDX event, for 6,875 room nights.

Read more

— Dana Bartholomew