Vice President, Convention Centers
A 35-year veteran of the public assembly facility management industry, Gessner serves as the Vice President of the convention center division for AEG Facilities, and is responsible for expanding the Convention Center Services and Management Division and delivery of best practices in the areas of convention center management, guest services, sales and operations. Known for its facility management and diverse menu of proprietary operational, guest services and event development, AEG Facilities and its affiliates, including AEG Ogden, currently operates several major award-winning convention centers in Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Oman and Qatar, and has plans to expand those services domestically.
Gessner came to AEG from the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (California), where he spent 14 years in senior management positions and was the General Manager of the 2.6 million square-foot award winning convention center for the past six years (2006-2012). During his tenure as the General Manager, Gessner improved operational efficiencies and reduced operating expenses by over $1 million and increased operating revenues by the same amount, all while improving customer satisfaction survey results to 97% favorable. The convention center also won many awards during this time period, including: Best Convention Center (So. Cal. Meetings), Prime Site Award (Facilities & Destinations), Distinctive Achievement Award (Assoc. Conventions & Facilities), Recycler of the Year (City of S.D.), Environmental Leadership Award (PCMA) and the Waste Reduction Award-WRAP (State of CA.). Earlier in his career, he was the Event Services Director of the management team that opened that convention center in 1989.
Gessner's expertise covers all aspects of public assembly facility management, including convention center management, arena management, event management, convention services, facility design and project management, labor negotiations, budgeting and revenue generation, sales and marketing and customer service programs. He is also an industry leader in the areas of Sustainability and "green" practices, and served as the Chair of the Sustainability Committee for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) from 2008-2012 as well as chairing the "Green Team" for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation and oversaw the process that resulted in that facility attaining LEED-EB O&M SILVER Certification from the US Green Buildings Council in 2011.
Prior to returning to the San Diego Convention Center in 2006, Gessner was the General Manager of WestWorld of Scottsdale, a 200 acre equestrian and special event venue in Arizona and was Deputy General Manager of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack in Del Mar, California. In addition, he was the Convention Services Manager for the Sheraton on Harbor Island Hotel in San Diego and the Facilities Manager for the San Antonio Convention Facilities Department.
Gessner is also an adjunct faculty professor and visiting lecturer for San Diego State University's Hospitality and Tourism Management Department, and is currently completing his Master's Degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University.