In October of this year the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) ran one of its most successful ever Global Education Conferences. The location was Europe – or to be more specific the French capital, and what is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the World – Paris.
So how do you top that? How do the ACTE conference organising team raise the bar when choosing a venue for their most prestigious convention of all – the North American Global Education Conference? Well how about looking to the city that is often referred to as “Paris in America”?
Yes, San Francisco, the city on the bay is to be the venue for ACTE’s 2012 Global Education Conference. The event, which is a must attend for those in the corporate travel management field, is to be held at The Fairmont, San Francisco on 22-24 April 2012.
It is fair to say that almost everyone knows something about San Francisco. Be it the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz; the 1906 earthquake or that the city is said to be home to the Crookedest Street in the World – Lombard Street.
What is less known perhaps, and what makes for the synergy between ACTE’s recent Global Education conference in Paris and the Spring conference in San Francisco, is the relationship between the two cities – where one extends from the other – much the way the San Francisco event’s content and themes will extend from the Paris conference.
San Francisco has been described as the “Paris of the West” many times over the years, most recently by the Mayor of Paris itself when he arrived in San Francisco last November to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its “Sister Cities” agreement. And back in the 1870’s, when San Francisco was rapidly expanding it was the home to more French people than any city in North America outside of New Orleans.
From architecture to culture, from pace of life to the local’s attitudes there are glimpses of Paris wherever you look in San Francisco. And the city itself is not referred to as “the most European of North American cities” for nothing.
Just walk to Lands End and the views give the famous statue of The Thinker plenty to contemplate from his seat outside the Palace of the Legion of Honor, a replica of Paris’ Palais de la Legion d’Honneur. The most beautiful of the city’s 65 museums it holds one of the world’s most significant Rodin collections.
So maybe the choice of San Francisco for the ACTE Global Education Conference next April is not such a surprise after all.
But the selection of the city for the convention gathering of ACTE members was for many other reasons also, most notably for the business heritage of the city. San Francisco is the home to the headquarters of businesses old and not so old; from the world famous (and perhaps one of the most historical names in US commerce) Wells Fargo to the more modern phenomena of EA Arts the electronic gaming company. The retail giant GAP was founded and flourished in the city while other world famous brand names ranging from food company Del Monte to financial services world leader Visa class the city as their home.
And let’s not forget the Internet. San Francisco is the home of the head offices of Twitter, social bookmarking websites Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit and search engines such as Technorati and social networks such as Yammer and Bebo.
And if you cast the net a little wider to the San Francisco Bay area then it is plain to see that ACTE selected San Francisco for its corporate tradition as much as anything else. For the San Francisco Bay area is home to Apple Inc, Hewlett Packard, Cisco Systems, and entertainment companies Pixar, DreamWorks and Lucas films as well as clothing manufacturer North Face plus thousands of other organisations.
Clearly the city on the bay is a hub of corporate life and activity while also being a hive of business travel in and out of the area as the wheels of commerce turn. So attending the ACTE Global Education Conference is a must for anyone involved in business travel management or procurement. As ACTE’s Executive Director, Ron DiLeo says: “Now more than ever it is vital to keep abreast of the latest developments in social, technological and commercial trends; it is vital to network with fellow colleagues and exchange ideas and compare notes and that is what the ACTE Global Education conference is all about. In San Francisco, with its commercial backdrop of operating companies in technology and social interaction it clearly will be a conference designed to highlight all the forthcoming trends to be aware of. And all that against one of the United States most wonderful cities!”
And DiLeo isn’t wrong. For anyone considering attending the ACTE conference next April an additional day or two tacked on to the trip for some “business tourism” is something to seriously think about as there is so much to see and experience.
The sights to see
But with so much to see and, probably, so little time to see it what are the “must sees” when attending the ACTE Global Education conference next April? Well if it’s shopping you want to experience then it is Fisherman’s Wharf that tops the list. Shops, shops, and a plethora of great seafood restaurants line the Wharf, where you still see vestiges of the old fishing crafts used by the Italian immigrants who brought the Wharf to life after the Gold Rush.
For unique culture then China Town is a must. Home to the largest urban population of Chinese people outside China, Chinatown is so authentic; you’ll forget you’re in San Francisco. And can you really say you’ve been to San Francisco without a ride on a clanking cable car? And nobody thought they’d work back in 1873!
Other sights include Alcatraz the dark and foreboding prison island where notorious criminals did their time including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. And of course there is the Golden Gate Bridge, famous on so many post cards and the Golden Gate Park with its heard of American Bison. Then there is the shops of Union Street and Union Square and the 65 museums that are all in the San Francisco area.
So, given that the ACTE conference will be featuring some of the leading thinkers in industry presenting their thoughts during the convention, the opportunity to hear the latest trends in business travel management and to network with fellow business professionals in the backyard of some of America’s greatest commercial names and all this against the backdrop of a city described as the Paris of the West and one can see why it is a must attend event. Do yourself a favor and plan in to your budgeting and diary for 2012 a trip to the ACTE Global Education conference 2012 – it’s sure to be something you’ll never regret.