Methodology: Let The Numbers Tell The Story

Factors like hotel room affordability, airline accessibility as well as what a destination has to offer in the way of parks and tourism infrastructure are relatively fixed and objective. There’s external stats readily available to compare convention destinations to one another based on these and other factors.[1]

Across Six Site Selection Categories has developed a scoring system that uses the top six convention site selection factors (or at least a fairly accurate proxy) to rank the cities with convention centers across the USA.  One advantage of scoring each city’s fixed assets over other methods that rank meeting destinations by the number of bookings or surveys is that the results are stable – good for several years out – whereas performance based measures can fluctuate widely from year to year.                                                 

1. Walkability to restaurants and attractions around the convention center. We use Walk Score.

2.  Affordable hotel rooms  How many total rooms does an area afford? How many within 1 mile of the convention center? This will give you a quick indication if there will be enough to accommodate your group. Also, average room rates for every city are available online. One source we’ve used is the US General Services Adminstration’s Per Diem rates. Like total hotel rooms, this is a quick comparison that is subject to change with availability by season. We’ve added seasonal rates as a footnote when available.

 3.  Close airports and the number of direct flights  This information is available in several forms, both is the number of direct flights a city has and the distance of the airport to the convention center.

4.  – Safety Personal crime risk varies by city – even within a city – so we centered in on the area around the convention center to determine scores. Personal crime risk is said to be a proxy for other types of safety scores.

5.  Tourism appeal  We looked at hot buttons attendees use as leisure travelers when deciding to participate in an event or not: the number of attractions and restaurants a city affords. Starting in 2020, we also included a score for a city’s natural recreation – the sum of two numbers: air quality and city parks.

6. Weather  Although left out of our first surveys, weather is included for obvious reason: a moderate climate sells.

These six criteria are the ones we believe are most often used by meeting planners and not surprising, attendees, for deciding on the best conference location. Other obvious factors like a city’s dedictaion to sustainability, technology to support hybrid meetings and intellectual capital are spinkled within individual reports along with a destination’s current Covid-19 numbers.

[1] Research Sources

    • Editors note: This article has been updated for the release of the 2022 Best Convention Cities Survey.