Convention Center Finally Gets Its Shot

They’re looking for operator/sales force
BY: SANDY BEECH

The Los Cabos convention center was designed and constructed for us in the span of only seven months. We were gifted with this marvelous 100 million dollar building by the federal government which needed a facility of this type to house the G20 meeting of 20 heads of state. Called the International Convention Center Los Cabos, the CICC is that large, handsome black and glass building in San Jose that you can see by looking right as you approach the toll booth to the road to the airport.

The building had its first and last use when it opened in 2012 for the G20 Summit, attended by world leaders such as the President of the United States, Barack Obama; Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The 60,000 square foot hall has the capacity for up to 6,500 people and can host a variety of uses including: conventions, exhibitions, meetings, festivals and events. It has a large parking lot, a spacious lobby, three exhibition areas, seven exhibit halls, a business center, a service area, a loading area, 567 parking spaces and outdoor garden areas.

 It even has one of the largest green walls in the world, with controlled drip micro spraying irrigation system, solar panels, LED lighting and distribution of natural light through customized domes. It is equipped with kitchens, an audiovisual system, and Wi-Fi.

The Convention Center La Paz (LPCC) is in the city of La Paz and has spectacular views of the Sea of Cortez. Its construction was completed in December 2014 and it is part of this deal. The main hall of 32,000 square feet, accommodates up to 3,600 people for a variety of uses, including: conventions, exhibitions, meetings, festivals and events. This site consists of two large divisible rooms, a large cafeteria (suitable for meetings or banquets), a generous lobby, halls, warehouses, kitchen space, backup generator, water storage, as well as audio and video equipment.

The La Paz Center was built because they were jealous of our snappy new convention center. We got ours because they needed some backwater area where the drug wars hadn’t yet reached and that could be sealed off against the expected hordes of protestors that show up at every economic summit in all parts of the world. We fit the bill for security, but had no building. Our local construction guys pretty much sat on their hands while skilled labor was brought in from the mainland. But then after looking at the workmanship on the Cultural Center, who could blame the convention center superintendents?

Following that one week of international excitement, the building has sat empty ever since because our local officials don’t know what to do with a convention center. Most of them had never even seen a professional convention center with all the appropriate facilities.

But now our mayor who has only been in office for about a year, has released the 43 page RFQ. Request for quote.

The successful job supplicant “will provide all the services, that are consistent with the management and operation of the convention center that is a leader in the industry, (mind you, they not only are not a leader in the industry, they have yet to dip their toe in the industry) including: sales and marketing, customer service, organization and event management, food and beverages, technical, audiovisual services, asset management, maintenance and repairs, cleaning, security, and coordination with important government agencies”.

So the new operator is getting the whole nine meters, the government just wants it off their plate and to hopefully make a little money off it, and bring in more tourists. Not only that, but tied in with our convention center will be the La Paz Center. This is kind of like having to haul around the little brother of the girl you want to date.

They’re looking for either a national or international company, and for once they might be serious about wanting to hire a foreign company because they have gone out of their way to assemble a well written RFQ in good English.

The document shows that the bureaucrat who wrote it is aware of what an attraction we have here, and what it takes to compete for conventions. They are looking for someone who will look for travelers in leisure tourism and in incentive trips, as well as business meetings from the mainland. They are also working the favorable dollar/peso angle. They might be less realistic in saying our town offers a large pool of skilled hospitality personnel.

Some more things in favor of our convention center: In 2014, Los Cabos reported the arrival of 1.5 million visitors. We have an inventory of approximately 18,000 rooms, 4,000 of which began operating in 2015. The destinations, both Los Cabos and La Paz, have a population of approximately 250,000 inhabitants each. The State of Baja California Sur has tourism as its main economic activity.

The economic performance forecast of Mexico for the next five years is favorable. Mexico's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to be an annual growth of 4% for the remainder of this decade. Some factors contributing to this positive outlook include pending political reforms, strengthening of industrial activity and increased foreign investment.

The downside to winning this bid is our city doesn’t believe in dressing them up before taking them to the ball. The building has been mostly vacant for the last four years and it’s already a bit of a fixer upper.

Hurricane Odile took its toll, even from the street you can see some of the façade in the upper left hand corner is missing, and there is some furniture, kitchen equipment, and audiovisual equipment that’s gone missing.

Another issue in taking on this job is that normally a convention center has people out beating the bushes for conventions before the first spade on the building is even turned. Large companies that need large convention halls line up their sites years before their event. Will the city government show patience in renting time that’s five and more years out?.