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September 19, 2018

CWT M&E Research: Top 2019 North American Cities for Meetings and Events

CWT Meetings & Events, a division of global travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), has announced its predictions for the top 10 North American cities for corporate meetings and events. The ranking is based on proprietary and industry data in CWT’s 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends report, to be published next week.

The 2019 forecast for the top 10 North America meetings and events cities (2018/17 positions in brackets):

1. Las Vegas, US (2018: 10 /2017: 10)
2. New York City, US (2/1)
3. Orlando, US (4/9)
4. Boston, US (-/-)
5. San Antonio, US (-/-)
6. Dallas, US (3/-)
7. Seattle, US (9/-)
8. San Francisco, US (1/6)
9. Chicago, US (8/4)
10. Vancouver, Canada (-/-)

Next year’s ranking sees three new entries: Boston (4) and San Antonio (5), plus Vancouver (10) in Canada. Canada was last featured in the 2017 North American top ten cities with Toronto, then in second place. Cities that have dropped out of next year’s list include Philadelphia (5th in 2018), Phoenix (6), and Atlanta (7).

In the North America marketplace, cost per attendee per day is predicted to rise 1 percent in 2019, to an average of $234. Average 2019 group size is projected to increase to 88, up 14 percent from 2018.

“Clients are mostly looking at upscale and luxury properties for their events – mirroring the strength of the U.S. economy,” said Tony Wagner, vice president, Americas, CWT Meetings & Events. “If customers can’t get availability, they are switching dates, or looking at a different destination to get the right property.”

The North America meetings market is likely to continue to be driven by robust economic growth in the United States, with forecasts from the International Monetary Fund putting US growth at 2.7 percent in 2019, a slight dip on 2018’s expected increase of 2.9 percent. GDP growth in Canada is expected to come in at 2 percent in 2019.

Lead times for events of 100-plus attendees, which require a ballroom and breakout spaces, are now being booked between four to six months in advance, while events for 400-500 delegates are being planned six to nine months ahead. Booking more than a year in advance is fast becoming the norm for major conferences and conventions.

The U.S. pipeline for new hotels is strong, with an estimated 5,300 properties currently planned, adding more than 630,000 rooms across the country, and this upward trend of new openings is expected to continue. The $1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Center in Manhattan alone will add 1.2 million square feet of new exhibition and meeting space from 2021.

One major city seeing a hotel capacity squeeze is San Francisco. That will keep prices high there – particularly as the city is already the number one meetings destination in the U.S. this year.

Source: CWT Meetings & Event

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