Smaller-Scale Locales Score Big on Top Destinations List

The usual suspects—Orlando, Chicago, and Las Vegas—showed up near the top of Cvent's Top 50 U.S. Meetings Destinations list. The real story is near the bottom, where smaller resort cities are showing their event prowess.

New York City. Nashville. National Harbor, Maryland?

According to Cvent, all three of these cities are pulling in significant event interest, each ranking on the event management platform company’s top-50 list of most popular meetings destinations.

The list, which is compiled based on meeting booking activity on Cvent’s network, shows some interesting trends.

The top locales: If you’re in the market for event space, the top-five destination cities have it in spades. Top-ranked Orlando, Florida, has 2,115,982 square feet of meeting space, but less than third-ranked Las Vegas (2,961,000 square feet). Rounding out the list are second-ranked destination Chicago (1,567,991 square feet), fourth-ranked Atlanta (1,741,980 square feet), and fifth-ranked San Diego (1,612,980 square feet).

The biggest surprises: Despite having a population of just 3,788 and a total of just six hotels, National Harbor, Maryland, a mixed-use development near Washington, DC, whose first phase was completed in 2008, ranked 26th on the list in its first appearance. (In comparison, the much larger Maryland city of Baltimore came in 25th.) On the other coast, the resort town of Coronado, California, which has 14 hotels but fewer sleeping rooms than National Harbor, debuted on the list in 43rd place. Though only slightly larger than National Harbor, it was ahead of two much larger California cities—46th-ranked San Jose and 48th-ranked Long Beach—that have more available meeting space. Other new spots on the list include Tucson, Arizona, and Salt Lake City.

What caused the dynamic change? According to Cvent’s Eric Eden, marketing and development are major factors for cities with growing meetings businesses. “The biggest reason is because of the investment that a city itself makes, whether it’s the convention and visitors bureau, the hotels themselves, and even cities that are doing major improvements to their downtown areas like Tucson,” he told The New York Times. In other words, resort areas with strong PR and great facilities can punch above their weight class.

What matters most to you in picking an event city? Let us know in the comments.

National Harbor, Md., a resort near Washington DC, made a big splash on this year's Cvent list. (photo by Darshan Vaishnav/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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