Cvent has just published its list of Top Meeting Destinations and Top Meeting Hotels for 2023: Nashville and San Diego moving up to the second and third spots after Orlando. Compiled by analyzing more than $14 billion of group business value sourced through the Cvent Supplier Network in 2022, the rankings highlight hotels, venues, and destinations. This is the first time Cvent has generated the list since the pandemic halted events.

Cvent’s Top Destinations data shows:                      

  • Orlando remains the No. 1 ranked meeting destination in the U.S. after being named No. 1 in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Nashville was named No. 2, moving up from being named No. 6 in 2019
  • Similarly, San Diego was able to move to the No. 3 spot in 2023, after being No. 7 in the 2019 listing
  • Interestingly, Las Vegas slid to No. 7 after previously always placing in the top 3

Additionally, the Top Three Meeting Hotels in North America for 2023 are:

  • Grand Hyatt Nashville
  • Omni Nashville Hotel
  • Fairmont Austin

“The critical role the meetings and events industry plays in bolstering local economies worldwide was never more apparent than when that business disappeared overnight during the pandemic,” said Stacey Fontenot, senior vice president of marketing at Cvent in a statement released along with the data. “Fortunately, destinations and hotels alike have seen a dramatic comeback from pandemic lows as they benefitted from the pent-up demand for in-person experiences.”

Cvent Top Meeting Destinations | North America

As pandemic restrictions eased and travel returned, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) worked diligently to promote their cities and revive the industry as quickly as possible, and those efforts are paying off. While Orlando, Florida retained the number one spot in North America from 2019, both Nashville, Tennessee (No. 2) and San Diego, California (No. 3) progressed in the ranking, moving up from (No. 6) and (No. 7) in 2019, respectively. Newcomers to the Top 10 include Austin, Texas (No. 8), Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona (No. 9), and Denver, Colorado (No. 10).

Top 10 Meeting Destinations in North America

1. Orlando, Florida

2. Nashville, Tennessee

3. San Diego, California

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

5. Chicago, Illinois

6. Atlanta, Georgia

7. Dallas, Texas

8. Austin, Texas

9. Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona

10. Denver, Colorado

“We’re thrilled to be the number one city on this year’s Cvent Top Meeting Destinations list,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO, Visit Orlando. “With a state-of-the-art convention center, an abundance of hotel rooms, ease of accessibility, award-winning dining and world-class entertainment, Orlando offers everything meeting planners need to create memorable experiences for their attendees,” she said. “We are honored Cvent has included Austin in their Top Meeting Destinations list,” said Alysia Roden, CMP, CEM, Visit Austin vice president of sales.

“Meetings and conventions are vital to our community, providing economic impact, supporting jobs, small businesses, restaurants, our music community, hotels and more. We are thankful we get the opportunity to introduce clients and convention attendees to our fun and amazing city. We invite meeting planners to build the agenda, and we’ll bring the excitement. Meet in Austin, you’re in for a show.”

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Cvent Top Meeting Hotels | North America

Many hoteliers leveraged the downtime in 2020 and 2021 to invest in upgrades and renovations to prepare their properties for the post-pandemic travel boom. For example, Grand Hyatt Nashville (No. 1) opened as a new property in late 2020 while other properties in the Top 10—Including Westin Charlotte (No. 4), ARIA Resort & Casino (No. 6), Bellagio Hotel & Casino (No. 7), The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa (No. 8) and Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel (No. 10)—each unveiled significant renovations in the last two years.

Top 10 Meeting Hotels in North America

1. Grand Hyatt Nashville

2. Omni Nashville Hotel

3. Fairmont Austin

4. The Westin Charlotte

5. JW Marriott Austin

6. ARIA Resort & Casino

7. Bellagio Hotel & Casino

8. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

9. Renaissance Nashville Hotel

10. Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

“We’re thrilled to be this year’s number one Cvent Top Meeting Hotel. This recognition reflects our continued dedication to delivering the experiences and amenities planners and attendees are looking for,” said Cherylanne Thomas, director of sales and marketing at Grand Hyatt Nashville. “Our unique indoor and outdoor event spaces facilitate engagement and inspiration, while our various outlets support relaxation outside the event environment. In addition, our use of the Cvent Supplier Network has been critical in our success. We offer virtual tours, event menus and meeting room layouts all in one place—Which helps us attract event professionals by giving them the ability to truly visualize their program here.”

“ARIA is home to some of Las Vegas’ premier resort amenities, and much of our business includes repeat groups that return year after year due to the deep, trusting relationships they’ve built with our team members,” said Tyler Stewart, ARIA vice president of sales. “Cvent technology continues to provide efficiencies across all of our business units and allows us to create a seamless, convenient customer journey for guests, planners and attendees. Through platforms such as Passkey, we are able to provide guests options to upgrade or purchase additional amenities during their stay. This not only generates incremental revenue, but more importantly creates a customized guest experience allowing attendees to enjoy Las Vegas in exactly the way they want.”

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Smart Meetings talked with Patrick Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Cvent, about what this data means:

1. What factors do you think led Las Vegas to slip to number four? (Las Vegas was No. 2 in the 2019 ranking)

This is the first time the “Top Destinations” list has been published since the onset of Covid-19. This year’s list is particularly exciting because we’re seeing how the meetings and events landscape is evolving in a post-pandemic environment.

Las Vegas can often be found within the Top 10 because it’s a city built for meetings and events. This year is no exception. In fact, the city recorded 38.8 million visitors in 2022 (which is only 8.7% off from the level seen in 2019) and continues to invest in the dramatic expansion of convention and meeting space, with new venues such as Allegiant Stadium, a $2-billion project.

During the pandemic-driven drought of meetings & events, Las Vegas doubled down on winning tourism which recovered faster, and certainly saw success there. That said, the city is still a hub for the meetings and events industry, and its change in position says more about enhanced activity in other states and cities than it does about Las Vegas falling behind.

2. What features do you believe put Orlando in the No. 1 spot?

Orlando has retained its #1 spot this year, after being named the “Top Destination” in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. With its world-class hotels and venues, Orlando continues to excite and attract visitors who are eager to travel post-pandemic. The World Travel & Tourism Council recently announced that Orlando was the largest U.S Travel and Tourism city destination in 2022 with an economic contribution of over $31 billion, surpassing 2019 levels (by $2.7 billion). This is important for meetings & events because we are seeing business travel increasingly paired with leisure travel—a trend referred to as bleisure travel—And this has made Orlando compelling for business events with a side of vacation, be it family, solo, or anywhere in between.

Orlando also stands out by embracing meeting planning tech to attract planners and groups during the sourcing process, which helps the city’s venues and hotels meet their business objectives. This includes using Cvent virtual tours to give meeting planners a chance to virtually teleport to over a thousand locations to get an intimate view of the venues Orlando has to offer.

When it comes to the meetings and events industry, specifically, the city’s exceptional sense of hospitality is often palpable, and attendees often enjoy exploring the city when they wrap up with meetings.

3. Why is this the first time the report is coming out post Covid? What changed in order to let you create the report now?

During the height of the pandemic, Cvent was focused on supporting event planners and hoteliers navigating the uncertainty that came with event cancellations and city closures. Meetings & events still happened during the pandemic, but almost entirely online as companies vacated offices and put travel restrictions in place that made meeting in person challenging, to say the least. Cvent paused the publication of these lists as the data would have been too skewed by pandemic anomalies.

But we realize that the Top Lists have become a go-to resource that is used both by event organizers to find great hotels and destinations and by hospitality professionals looking to set themselves apart to attract their share of group business. With travel (and events) roaring back particularly in-person and hybrid events, we’re excited to share the insights with the market again. It’s yet another indicator that our industry is not only evolving but is also incredibly resilient.

4. What features do you feel hotels and destinations have in common who are in the top spots?

 The top cities and hotels are those that have benefitted from the pent-up demand for in-person experiences and capitalized on renovations and upgrades they invested in during the pandemic. For example, many hoteliers and destinations leveraged the lull in business in 2020 and 2021 to invest in refreshing their offerings, renovating downtowns, properties and attractions, and preparing for the eventual return of meetings & events business.

Many of these efforts are paying off as meeting and event attendees are eager to travel and take time off around their business trips. In fact, a recent American Hotel & Lodging Association survey found that nearly nine in 10 (89%) participants wanted to include some vacation time to their next corporate trip – which some of the cities and hotels in the top spots have certainly benefited from.

Across the board, we’re seeing cities and companies invest in events because they are important drivers of economic activity. Local restaurants and bars, rideshare services and other local businesses benefit from events hosted in their cities. Cvent’s Top Destinations highlights those that have gone above and beyond and seen real results when it comes to supporting their local economies in this way.

5. Your report mentions renovations as a top reason for landing in top spots. What do properties that have made renovations and landed in the top spots have in common?

As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic lull gave cities and hotels the chance to review their offerings and invest in modernizing or expanding their venues to attract more groups and visitors and events once travel started up again. We’ve seen that cities and properties in the top spots have put a lot of effort into making sure they have interesting, unique venues for meetings and events. With business travelers participating in the bleisure trend, and hybrid/remote workers taking the chance to work out of town when they can, these cities and properties tend to be the first to fill when event planners start looking for venues.

Additionally, in today’s meetings and events landscape, planners are looking for technology-focused venues that empower them to build events that will provide incredible experiences for all attendees, regardless of whether that event is virtual, in-person, or hybrid which is a blend of both. A great example of this is W Barcelona, the #1 Meeting Hotel in Europe, which showcases its state-of-the-art meeting facilities and hybrid meeting capabilities online in a very detailed manner allowing planners to visualize how their event will fit into the space, and how attendees will experience it. Staying up to date on technological offerings is a critical component of helping venues and destinations promote what sets them apart and helps them achieve their ranking on the Cvent Supplier Network and Top Lists.