CWT Meetings & Events released its top 10 North American cities for meetings business next year, based on both proprietary and industry booking data. Sitting at number one is New York, which moved up in the rankings from the second position in 2019. San Francisco and Chicago rank second and third, up from eighth and ninth, respectively, as they were ranked a year ago. Last year's number-one city, Las Vegas, falls to tenth place in the new rankings. Atlanta, Toronto and San Francisco are new to the highest tiers this year. Here's the top 10 for 2020, with the 2019 ranking in parentheses:
1. New York (2)
2. San Francisco (8)
3. Chicago (9)
4. Atlanta (N/A)
5. Toronto (N/A)
6. San Diego (N/A)
7. Seattle (7)
8. Orlando (3)
9. Dallas/Fort Worth (6)
10. Las Vegas (1)
CWT named an additional five North American cities that are expected to see a surge in M&E demand next year, including the company's home base of Minneapolis, as well as Indianapolis; Austin, Tex.; Houston; and Portland, Ore. The report notes the relative affordability of these cities when compared with the top-tier destinations, combined with an increasing number of competitive meeting facilities.
The rankings are based on the info CWT will publish next week in its 2020 Meetings & Events Future Trends report. Consistent with other recent forecasts, the report calls for increasing but slowed meetings and events demand next year.
"Political events have a direct impact more than ever on companies' quarterly and annual outlooks," said Tony Wagner, vice president for the Americas and South Pacific regions at CWT Meetings & Events. "Some industry segments are pulling back and are being a bit more cautious."
Economic and political uncertainty are already having an effect on group business, as booking times are shortening: Large events that might have booked at least six months out previously are now averaging closer to three months, according to the report. As the recent GBTA Business Travel Index Outlook noted, much of the uncertainty is being driven by the deepening trade war between the United States and China, the world's largest economies and the nations responsible for the most business travel activity.
CWT projects that cost-per-attendee will rise in 2020 to $253, a noticeable year-over-year increase of 8 percent. The report forecasts an average meeting duration of three days, for groups averaging 73 people. The average lead time is projected to be less than two months — just 59 days.