Top 10 Best Conference Cities
Conferences play an important role in many fields and industries. From networking events to new product launches, sharing industry knowledge and more, conferences offer face to face meetings that play a crucial role in keeping our economy moving. They also offer the perfect platform to explore a new city. Successful Meetings Magazine featured an article from a study published by SmartAsset.com on the Best Cities for Conferences and we have the list below for you to explore.
Not all conference centers are created equal, however. To find the best cities for conferences the publication based its findings on nine different criteria, including hotel and restaurant costs, violent crime rate, airport distance, and other sources related to the costs and convenience of attending a conference in major U.S. cities. While the Southwest shines, particularly San Antonio taking the top spot, the list offers choices from East of the Mississippi to West of the Rockies. Here are the top ten selections, according to SmartAsset.com:
- San Antonio – Stroll along the Riverwalk, enjoy the country’s finest Tex-Mex cuisine and interact with some of the friendliest people in the U.S. For conference organizers, capacity is key and in that regard San Antonio measures up. The city has the eighth highest number of hotels of any major U.S. city, including the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is located directly along the Riverwalk and has over 200,000 square feet of meeting space, along with four exhibit halls. San Antonio is far more affordable than other popular convention destinations with the average price of a three-course meal in San Antonio being just $17.50 and hotel rooms are approximately $130 below the average for major U.S. cities. Did I mention the friendly people?
- Las Vegas – Did you know program attendance increases an average of 13% when Las Vegas is the selected destination? It’s true! Las Vegas hosts more than 20,000 conventions and incentive programs annually. Always a safe bet, Sin City has a multitude of giant hotel properties with the average price of a hotel room in Las Vegas averaging about $119 per night. The airport is in close proximity to the convention center, which means you won’t have to wait in traffic upon arrival. Also, since Las Vegas is a giant play ground for adults, the entertainment options for after-hours are endless.
- San Diego – Beaches? Check. Sunshine? Check. World’s best burritos? Check. There are plenty of obvious reasons to visit San Diego – and just as many to hold a conference there. For starters the city has ample infrastructure for conferences, with 17 large hotels. The city also has a convenient airport, located just a few miles from downtown San Diego along the San Diego Bay. From Old Town San Diego to the Gaslamp District to Balboa Park, the dining options and activities to experience are overflowing in this key destination.
- Tucson, Arizona – Located in the desert of Southern Arizona, Tucson is a good choice for conference planners looking to keep costs to a minimum. The city ranks among the most affordable major cities in the U.S., especially when it comes to lodging and food. The Tucson Convention Center has the size and flexibility to accommodate every type of meeting, convention, tradeshow or banquet. The city also offers over 100 walkable attractions and over 250 restaurants featuring ethnic roots for a foodie’s paradise.
- Columbus, Ohio – The Greater Columbus Convention Center is in the center of Ohio, the center of Columbus, and it’s surrounded by restaurants, shops, hotels and entertainment venues. The largest city in Ohio, Columbus is home to both the state capital and the state’s flagship university, The Ohio State University. That makes it an obvious choice for academic conferences or conferences relating to government and public policy.
- Austin, Texas – For conference-goers, the conference often serves as an excuse to spend some time in a city. This may be the case for many of the attendees of Austin’s numerous conferences. The Texas capital has great food, warm weather and top-notch live music any night of the week. At the same time, it has more than enough hotel space to host large conferences. In addition, The Austin Convention Center is a gigabit-rated building and ranks among the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country. Complimentary wireless and internet service are not too bad either.
- Orlando, Florida – The top East Coast city for conferences, Orlando has the hotels and amenities to handle tens of thousands of conference attendees in a single week with ease. Orange County Convention Center, currently ranked the second largest convention center in the U.S., is located in the heart of Orlando’s tourism district, within walking distance to 6,000 hotel rooms and Pointe Orlando, an entertainment complex with attractive venue selections and options for dining, shopping and nightlife.
- New York, New York – When it comes to sheer size, there’s no beating New York. Manhattan alone has 918 hotels, include 50 with more than 250 employees. There are also three airports to choose from and some of the best public transportation in the country. New York is the center of the universe of all things food, fashion, and business, hosting the most diverse, exciting and sophisticated attractions in the U.S.
- Los Angeles, California – The amenities and attractions in LA are hard to beat. It has the highest concentration of entertainment and dining establishments of any major U.S. city and the fifth highest number of large hotels. The Los Angeles Convention Center offers 720,000 square feet of exhibit space and 147,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Portland, Oregon – Known for its culture and natural beauty, Portland is a quieter and moderately less expensive alternative to LA for a conference on the West Coast. Approximately 6.9 percent of the city’s businesses are restaurants, bars or entertainment establishments, and as an added bonus, all purchases made in the state of Oregon are sales-tax free.
So what do you think of the list? Share your comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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