San Francisco Travel's talented convention sales and services staff are your local destination experts for all your San Francisco meeting needs. Get to know our team and what they do to create memorable attendee experiences in the City by the Bay.
Meet Deirdre Lewis
What is your role at San Francisco Travel?
I am the Senior Director of Convention Services & Events. I have been with the organization for almost 14 years. I started in convention sales, booking clients into The Moscone Center, and moved to convention services about 18 months ago.
I oversee a team of eight fantastic individuals. Nia Tahani Wilkes and Alexa De La Torre are my events team. They produce events for San Francisco Travel nationwide. Oleg Nakonechny, Kimberly Lee, Teresa Wong-Jones, Jenny Thi, and Oscar Lee are convention service managers for our citywide and self-contained groups, and Michael Thomas works on our trade shows. Between all of us, we produce more than 17 events, a dozen trade shows, and manage thousands of accounts.
What attracted you to your role?
Selling The Moscone Center and bringing business to San Francisco was a great experience, but I also love working with people to help make their meetings successful once they are booked here. I enjoy being creative and engaging with the planners and our partners to create memorable experiences for their attendees. I also like connecting visitors to our community businesses and resources.
What kind of services does your department provide to meeting planners?
Convention Services is a one-stop shop. Anything from hotel and venue selection, site inspections, and attendance building tools to marketing and promotional materials, CSR resources, creative meeting experiences, and overflow room services—we will help with just about anything you need. And if we can't help you, we will find someone who can.
How have you seen the DMO space change over the years? Where do you see it going?
DMOs need to adapt to stay relevant. San Francisco Travel is constantly evolving, using the technology we need to be relevant to a bigger audience. San Francisco Travel is also much more involved, engaged, and connected to our local community then ever before, including greater involvement with City Hall on public policy matters. That is something that 14 years ago we would have steered clear of.
Tell us about one memorable experience you were able to create with a client.
In 2017, we hosted the HPN Global Partner Conference. We worked with KeyEvents to produce a Chinatown Adventure for approximately 600 HPN associates and their industry partners. People were separated into 12 groups based on their Chinese zodiac signs. The individual groups were then lead through San Francisco's iconic Chinatown and tasked with purchasing something along the way that reflected the group's common traits. The tour ended at China Live, where we recreated a Chinese New Year celebration, with lion dancers, terra cotta warriors, ribbon dancers, calligraphers, traditional Chinese musicians, fortune tellers, as well as the 12 zodiac characters. Team Rooster won the contest by showing up with a live rooster!
What's the most important reason for meeting planners to work with our Convention Services team?
Besides the fact that our services are free, we are your San Francisco destination experts. Our team is experienced and knowledgeable about venues and event suppliers in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We can provide customized solutions for your specific needs. We can also tell you what's new in the city, as well as what is coming soon. Everyone is looking for unique, memorable experiences and we are here to help you achieve that.
Why is San Francisco important to you?
It's my hometown. I love working in an industry that supports the city that I grew up in and that my children grow up in. Everything I do directly impacts them and their way of life. It gives me a sense of pride to sell the city I love. Who can ask for more than that?