SmartAsset conducted the survey by reviewing data from Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index and other sources on the costs and convenience of attending a conference in major U.S. cities. The analysis incorporated nine metrics, including number of major hotels, average cost of a hotel room, distance from the airport to the city center and violent crime rate.
San Antonio was easily the top conference city, with an index of 100, and was followed by Las Vegas at 86.62 and San Diego at 81.54. The other high-scoring Texas cities were No. 6 Austin (72.82) and No. 13 Houston (59.84).
Most of the top 10 cities are located in the southern portion of the United States, as shown below.
San Antonio: Though not hyped nearly as much as New York, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities, the Alamo City offers plenty of unique attractions—including the River Walk, The Alamo and arguably the best Tex-Mex cuisine in the country. The city also boasts Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, which provides more than 200,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. And the city is amazingly affordable: For example, the average cost of a three-course meal is $17.50, less than half the cost in New York City.
Las Vegas: It’s noted for its lavish, expensive hotels, but actually the average price of a room here is just $119 per night, the third-lowest among the top 10 cities. Las Vegas has 462 hotels, the most of any city in the top 10. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is only four miles from the city center and a monorail runs from the airport to Las Vegas Convention Center.
San Diego: Offering 17 large hotels (the sixth most in the country), San Diego offers great year-round weather and fabulous beaches. And the downtown area is just 3.6 miles from San Diego International Airport (SAN).
Tucson, Arizona: This desert city has the lowest average hotel room rate ($103) of any in the top 18, and the savings don’t stop there. The average cost of a meal is $19, bested only by San Antonio among the top 10 cities.
Columbus, Ohio: Home to the state capital and Ohio State University, Columbus is a top choice for academic conferences and gatherings related to government and public policy. The average hotel room rate ($123) is the fourth-lowest among the top 10 cities and the average cost of a meal ($19) is the second-lowest.
Austin, Texas: Music flows everywhere here, and coupled with the warm weather, makes a very enticing conference destination. Austin has plenty of hotels (314) to host large conferences and the lowest crime rate among the top 14 cities.
Orlando: The city’s 266 hotels rank ninth among the top 10 cities, but it has 44 large hotels, second only to New York City in the United States. The average hotel room rate is $112, the second-lowest among the top 18 cities.
New York City: Boasting 918 hotels, 356 more than any other top 10 city, New York remains one of the leading convention cities in the country. The average hotel room rate ($245) and average meal cost (37.50) are the highest of any major U.S. city, however.
Los Angeles: It has the highest concentration of entertainment and dining establishments of any major U.S. city and the fifth-most hotels (360). The distance from the nearest airport, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is 18 .8 miles, the most of any city in the top 25, however, and the average meal cost ($27.50) is the fourth-highest among the top 10 cities.
Portland, Oregon: While perhaps best known for its beauty and peacefulness, 6.9 percent of Portland’s businesses are restaurants, bars and entertainment venues—the eighth highest concentration of any major U.S. city. Surprisingly, Portland also has the third most hotels among the top 10 cities.