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5 Hot 2020 Corporate Meeting & Event Cities … And What Makes Them So!

A fine chef strives to keep his or her menu fresh and exciting. And a conscientious Corporate Meeting & Event Planner scratches that same itch.


How many times have you overheard comments like these?

“I wish next year’s sales meeting would land someplace really cool and different for a change.”

“Why do they sign multi-year contracts with the same hotel? I get tired of going to the same place every year.”

“Let me guess, we’re going to either Vegas or Orlando …”

With all due respect to Las Vegas and Orlando which absolutely do offer the total package for a planner – huge room blocks, great convention centers, beautiful properties at all price points, warm weather, myriad off-property attractions, and easy-in/easy-out travel – people want to experience something and somewhere new and different.

It’s not unlike a chef offering the same specials on the menu every night. Yes, they’re all beautifully presented and tasty and delicious but variety is, as they say, the spice of life. [And the spice of corporate meetings and events, as well.]

We all have our favorite cities and properties whether you’re an attendee or a planner. It’s usually due to a friendly staff, familiar surroundings, great weather and the confidence that comes with having been there before and having enjoyed your experience.

But we all have an innate desire to mix it up a bit from time to time. So, take a cue from the fine chefs of the world and strive to keep things fresh and exciting. Let’s take a look at the top meeting and event destinations in 2020. [Some are predictable, others might surprise you. And Orlando didn’t make the top-five, BTW.]

2020 Trendiest M&E Destinations

Once a year, a worldwide association of independently-owned Destination Management Companies [DMC], releases its list of the trendiest cities for meetings and events. Data and feedback are collected from nearly 7,000 programs taking place in more than 500 cities around the globe.

In 2019, the top-five global destinations for meetings and events were:

  1. Paris
  2. Copenhagen
  3. Chicago
  4. San Francisco, and …
  5. Budapest

Interestingly, the 2020 ranking is 100% new and fresh with all hot spots in the U.S.:

  1. San Diego
  2. Nashville
  3. Las Vegas
  4. New Orleans, and …
  5. Austin

Let’s look a bit closer at the reasons behind the rankings.

San Diego – Beautiful city, beaches and a year-round climate agreeable to all. Plenty of nearby attractions – Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, sailing, harbor cruises, mountain biking, shopping, etc. Hotels range from airport properties to five-star resorts, and everything in between.

Nashville – Music City has evolved from its country-fried Hee-Haw roots to a legitimate Who’s Who of hot corporate meetings and events destinations. Large citywide room availability, world-class musical entertainment along Honky Tonk Row, authentic roots, the chance to bump into a country star, and gracious Southern Hospitality.

Las Vegas – Like a fine candy store, Sin City never disappoints. Fantastic hotel options, world-class nightlife, top-quality shows, great golf and, of course, gaming, gaming and more gaming. Throw in a favorable climate and, yes, there is a reason why you feel like that kid in a candy store.

New Orleans – The Crescent City seems to evoke a visceral love-loathe reaction. Apparently, a great number of people are in love with N’Awlins’ legendary cuisine [you can generally walk into any restaurant on any corner and leave quite contented], its famed nightlife, soulful roots of jazz, riverboat tours, the French Quarter and [pick your adjective] seedy/sensational Bourbon Street. Many hotel properties are within walking distance of the fun, making NOLA quite attractive to planners and attendees.

Austin – Any town that’s a combo state capital and home to a major university [University of Texas with 51,000 students! ] is bound to have a unique vibe. Toss in the beautiful Texas Hill County, a vibrant music scene up and down Sixth Street, golf, hiking, biking, and the overall warmth of a big Texas Welcome. [Is Austin Nashville West or is Nashville Austin East?]

General Takeaways

There are a number of commonalities among these five cities:

  • All are easy to get to with flights available throughout the day, many of them direct.
  • All offer great hotel availability [San Diego, 55,000 rooms; Nashville, 42,000; Las Vegas, a whoppin’ 150,000; and New Orleans and Austin, 40,000 each].
  • All offer multiple tiers of hotels.
  • All have great convention centers.
  • All offer a veritable gumbo of nearby attractions, whether it’s outdoor activities, great scenery, exciting entertainment, music, shopping, or world-class culinary.
  • But … all tend to be pricey. A hot destination generally means a higher price point [good ol’ supply and demand] but, as any savvy planner knows, a skilled negotiator can pull costs from the stratosphere into the realm of reality with reduced group rates, concessions, and other in-kind offerings (see- ‘Gotchas’ to Watch for When Negotiating Contracts).

Bottom Line …

People want variety.

People want new and different.

People want to return home energized by what they learned during business sessions but also pumped about the great, balanced, work-hard/play-hard experience they just enjoyed. When they’re excitedly telling their family and friends about the incredible meeting or event they just attended, you’ve hit a home run. Make all that TSA stress and other travel challenges worth the hassle because the meeting experience was just so memorable!

And as that conscientious planner, it’s your role to meet and exceed their expectations. Dynami’s depth, experience and far-reaching network can help you do just that!


Julie Thompson-Whelan