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SAN FRANCISCO — If you were to ask health-care and biotech executives where they want to be next week — where they truly want to be — they will not say San Francisco. Anywhere, they will say, but San Francisco.

There’s the garbage and the human excrement on the sidewalks. There’s the mad dash to try find available accommodations. There’s the panhandling, evidence of the city’s handling of its worsening homelessness crisis. Oh, and there’s the $14,000 meeting cubicles and the coffee, available (this is true) for $170 per gallon.


And yet everyone who’s anyone will be here during the four days of “JPM Week” — the biotech industry’s largest and most important business and networking meeting, headlined by the J.P Morgan Healthcare Conference.

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  • It’s expensive but doesn’t have to be $12,000 per person. You can stay near the airport that week for $500 a night ($2000) and taxi back and forth $50 x 8 trips = $400, that’s $2400. That’s still alot, but it’s not $12,000 or $18,000. You can also walk only a few blocks from Union Square (e.g. 6th and Market) and a range of cafes with almost no increase in crowds and normal price e.g. $12-16 lunch. (This year I stayed at a clean/tourist motel in Cow Hollow, out toward Golden Gate Bridge, a few miles west of downtown, for $160/nt and $25 each way in Uber. My total costs Sunday-Friday *with* food and airfare were $2200).

  • In early October, our team decided to get a small meeting room for the conference. Most places were sold out. I was able to find a small hotel that converted some of their guestrooms to small meeting rooms for the event. These meeting rooms were priced at $1500 per 12-hour day (7am-7pm), plus tax and fees. In addition to the $1500 rental, there was an additional fee of $250 for them to convert the room and an extra $150/day for them to store THEIR FURNITURE. A gallon of coffee at this particular hotel was being charged at the rate of $95, PLUS $250 per room delivery! So, if you have two coffee breaks, you are looking at a $500 surcharge just for them to go from their kitchen, up the elevator, and to your overpriced meeting room.

    As for Parc55, I did make room reservations for one of our executives back in October for January’s JPM Conference. The reservations were non-refundable. The cost? It averages out to $1750.00 per night!!! I guess it’s a bargain considering that the Four Seasons Hotel was going for $2000.00 per night, plus tax, and fees.

  • I always find it interesting to read people who aren’t familiar with the way hotels operate commenting on hotels. For the record, I am in Hotel Sales, but not with the Parc55.
    The $170 for a gallon of coffee is not just over JPM, but the standard price that the Parc55 charges anytime. They’re only charging what the market will bear. And every other major hotel in the area will charge similar. And this is not limited to just San Francisco. This is what you could expect from any major hotel in LA, NYC or Chicago. Anywhere labor and food costs are high.
    The JW Marriott is not charging $14,200 for a tradeshow booth. That would be coming from the 3rd party planner/conference would be charging.

  • I have gone to all 37 conferences since the first in 1983. The highlight then was the Monday night dinner with Co-founder Bob Swanson of Genentech. You have to go. Period
    Hal Kellman, Kellman Family Office

  • “The city has neglected the needs of the most impoverished residents for decades…” Translation: give my coalition even more money to study the issue. The city hasn’t neglected the impoverished’s needs, they’ve enabled them to the point the homeless are untouchable. It’s by design. The homeless “assistance” business is big dollars, as attested to by the article. What city with bond measures and taxes to help the homeless has actually seen the problem get better? It gets worse. Politicians love talking about their compassion for the homeless while not solving the problem.

  • The Authors are asking an important question that defies an easy answer. Indeed, FOMO is a powerful driver.

    I think we need to separate the actual JPM conference in the Westin and the other conferences taking place at the same time.

    Suppose JPM actually agreed to move it from the Westin to another city/location. Would the other conferences follow suit? Would people just go to this other location without actually registering for one of the other conferences?

    If we separate JPM/Westin, what do we have left? Is it essentially BIO plus an investor conference rolled into one?

    Critically, would the FOMO remain? And for who? The investment community? The licensing community? Both?

    I’d be curious to see attendance statistics from the other (surrounding) conferences.

    I suspect attendance at JPM/Westin will remain strong for decades, but perhaps the surrounding activities will suffer from a) the expensive hotels, and b) the general state of SFO.

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