TSNN Preview & Planning Guide to PCMA Convening Leaders 2024 in San Diego

January 3, 2024

What do you need to know before attending PCMA Convening Leaders 2024 (#CL24)? TSNN put together this list of new and notable networking and education events to help you plan.

Hosted by the San Diego Tourism Authority, CL24 will be held Jan. 7-10 at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC). In 2023, Convening Leaders attracted nearly 3,300 attendees to the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio. The 2024 event is on pace to surpass 2023’s attendance, according to PCMA Chief of Staff and Vice President Corporate Communications Meghan Risch.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Convening Leaders to our beautiful city in 2024,” said Julie Coker, president and CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority. “San Diego’s stunning beauty, combined with our diverse culture and vibrant atmosphere, fosters an environment of innovation and collaboration which perfectly aligns with the forward-thinking nature of the Convening Leaders.”

She added, “We can’t wait to welcome participants from around the world and embrace them with San Diego’s warmth, charm and welcoming spirit.”

SDCC, a 2.6-million-square-foot waterfront facility, will host more than 100 meetings and conventions in fiscal year 2024, which began on July 1, 2023 and ends on June 30, 2024. These events are projected to generate a record-breaking $1.7 billion in regional economic impact, including $39 million in hotel and sales tax revenue for the City of San Diego, according to SDTA. In 2023, The Wall Street Journal recognized SDCC as the 4th best convention center in the U.S. and the top choice for city and surroundings.

In its room block, PCMA offers six hotels, including the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Manchester Grand Hyatt, Omni San Diego Hotel, Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, Pendry Hotel San Diego, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. All are within walking distance to SDCC. 

On Tues., Jan. 9, PCMA is hosting a reception from 7-10 p.m. at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, featuring a performance by ’90s R&B icons, Boyz II Men!

Besides the event, San Diego offers a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, attractions and more near the SDCC. As the eighth largest U.S. city, San Diego has 1.4 million residents, with a diverse population and the nation's largest military community, according to the City of San Diego website. If you have some free time before, during or after the event, SDTA has put together some ideas for PCMA attendees here

In fiscal year 2023, which ended on July 30, San Diego welcomed an estimated 30.5 million visitors who contributed a record $14.28 billion in direct spending locally — a significant $1 billion increase compared to the previous fiscal year, according to a SDTA press release

Expect mild winter temperatures in early January in San Diego, with average highs of 66 degrees and average lows of 50 degrees. Check the weather before you pack. 

PCMA Chair Desiree Knight, who serves as senior director, meetings and events for the American Psychological Association, will officially hand over the gavel to Incoming PCMA Chair Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy.

CL24 will include its usual mix of high-profile speakers, well-known entertainers and a plethora of sessions, as well as plenty of new offerings, formats and activations to keep the event fresh. 

What's On Tap

With so much to see and do over the course of four days, TSNN has curated a list of what you need to know before you head to San Diego.

1. Networking. From evening receptions and luncheons to breaks and first-timer meetups, PCMA CL24 offers a full array of networking activities for attendees to choose from. The event kicks off with a networking experience at SeaWorld San Diego from 6:30-10 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 7. Attendees will enjoy a fusion of culinary delights, mesmerizing entertainment and unforgettable animal experiences. On Tues., Jan. 9, PCMA is hosting a reception from 7-10 p.m. at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, featuring a performance by ’90s R&B icons, Boyz II Men! Nestled within the picturesque Embarcadero Marina Park South, the venue offers unforgettable views of the San Diego Bay. See a full list of 20 networking activities available at CL24.

On the main stage, President Bill Clinton and 67th Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator from NY Hillary Rodham Clinton will join CL24 attendees at 9 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 9.

2. Keynotes. On the main stage, President Bill Clinton and 67th Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator from NY Hillary Rodham Clinton will join CL24 attendees at 9 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 9. Other main stage speakers include: Mayim Bialik, former Jeopardy! host, neuroscientist, author; Mo Gawdat, former chief business officer, Google [X]; and Nina Schick, author, entrepreneur, speaker - AI Authority.

3. The District. PCMA’s version of a trade show floor, The District, will offer an immersive attendee marketplace. Located in the Sails Pavilion, The District will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 8, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 9.  PCMA will also host a happy hour 4-5 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 8, in The District.

4. Women in Exhibitions Network (WIEN) North America meetup. Join WIEN for cocktails or mocktails, connections and conversations at 4:30 p.m. on Tues., Jan 9. WIEN will host drinks at the Top of the Hyatt at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, sponsored by Visit Atlantic City. Check out the panoramic views from on the 40th floor.

5. Sessions. Over the course of three days, the event will feature a vast array of event planning topics – from “Developing Strategic Sponsorships” and “The Future of Generative AI” to “Best Practices for Taking Your Event(s) Offshore” and “Facilitating Curated Event Experiences.” The sessions will be presented in a variety of formats – from conversation starters and idea exchanges to 30-minute event consultations and meetups for peer groups, like event organizers.

6. Accessibility Tour. Experience navigating the event environment in a wheelchair, electric scooter, knee scooter or other mobility-assistive device. Attendees will be guided through the space in a wheelchair by an accessibility expert to identify situations that are top-of-mind for attendees with mobility disabilities, and consider critical questions to ask venue and supplier partners. The tour will conclude with a debrief, where participants will share key learnings from the experience, and discuss best practices for adopting, and advocating for, accessible event design. The tour is available 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 8 and Tues., Jan. 9.

7. Coaching. The ELI Career and Mentoring Hub, powered by Soundings!, is a dedicated space designed to foster professional and inner growth, offering 1:1 access to career coaching and mentoring opportunities. Through the event platform, CL24 participants can select a date/time for a 30-minute appointment (on a first-come, first-serve basis), then choose a topic that aligns with their personal and professional development goals.

Hosted by the San Diego Tourism Authority, CL24 will be held Jan. 7-10 at the San Diego Convention Center.

8. Wellness. CL24 attendees can participate in a Wellness Challenge, and PCMA is offering a number of wellness activities, including a run/walk, boot camp and sound bath experience. On Mon., Jan. 8 at 6:30 a.m., a Fun Run/Walk, sponsored by Caesars Entertainment, will highlight San Diego's beautiful scenery. Or CL24 attendees can participate in an All Fitness Levels Bootcamp at 7 a.m. on Mon., Jan. 8.. Walk along the Bay on the Embarcadero trail for a full body workout while enjoying the seaside fresh air. On Tues., Jan 9 at 7 a.m., a sound bath experience will be offered. This meditative sound bath is designed to help CL24 attendees achieve a deeper state of relaxation, leading to better sleep, reduced stress levels and improved mood.

9. Tech playground. In one theater, PCMA hand-picked event tech so attendees can try them out in simulated event scenarios. “No sponsors, no pay-to-play, no sales pitches, no pressure. Space is limited so arrive early to reserve a spot,” according to PCMA’s website. In another theater, 30-minute sessions will cover a variety of content, including “Going Viral: Let Your Attendees Build Your Brand For You” and “AR, VR, XR Oh My! Figuring Out the Right Reality For Your Event.”

10. Supplier activations and events. A number of suppliers are providing activations for all attendees to enjoy. For example, Visit Seattle is setting up a pickleball court (be on the lookout for a 14-foot tall pickleball paddle!). Visit Fort Worth is providing complimentary rides on San Diego’s iconic pedicabs to the SDCC and other downtown locations from Hilton San Diego Gaslamp, Manchester Grand Hyatt and Marriott Marquis San Diego. ​Rest your feet and take in the scenery. Prior to Party with a Purpose, Monday evening will feature a number of invitation-only exhibitor and sponsor events. 

What’s next? 

PCMA has secured dates and locations for Convening Leaders through 2027. Save the following dates:

  • Jan. 12-15, 2025, in Houston
  • Jan. 11-14, 2026, in Philadelphia
  • Jan. 10-13, 2027, in Miami



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