Hotel Costs, Accessibility Prompt Shifts in Convention City Competitiveness

Northstar's Interim Convention Cities Index analyzes how critical site-selection factors have shifted over the past six months.

CCI interim report december 2022 - 2

Choosing a destination for a citywide meeting or event has never been a simple task, and Covid-19 has brought critical new considerations into the mix. Health and safety measures are now just as important as exhibit space, airlift, hotel rates and other factors.

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Northstar Meetings Group's Convention Cities Index aims to serve as an all-in-one resource to help planners navigate the citywide site-selection process, based on which factors are most pertinent to them. The first and only of its kind, the CCi uses a weighted ranking system with the latest data to evaluate destinations in the U.S. and around the world that are ideally suited to hosting large events. 

The index's in-depth methodology includes extensive research into six evaluation categories: the amount of indoor exhibit space at each city's largest convention center, number of hotel rooms within 15 minutes' walking distance from the convention center, average cost of a hotel room, travel time (without traffic) from the nearest major international airport to the convention center, number of direct flights per month and the city's safety level for travelers.

The December 2021 CCi Interim Report includes updated data on room rates, safety scores and monthly flights. Planners can compare this information with the June 2021 CCi. All CCi data points will be refreshed again in June, with interim indices updated and posted in January every year on an ongoing basis. 

As hotel rates, flight schedules and safety scores shift, so does the relative position of convention center cities, as noted on the charts below. 

The most notable changes to the U.S. list since June are:

  • Phoenix moved from #20 to #14, based on improved safety scores and more competitive average room rates.
  • Anaheim dipped from #2 to #7, as direct flights decreased and hotel rates rose.
  • Los Angeles also saw a drop in direct flights, moving the city's position from #17 to #23.
  • San Diego, while its data was consistent, shifted from #12 to #17, as the relative data from other cities improved.
  • Boston joined the U.S. list, replacing Atlantic City at #25.

Among the movers on the global list are:

  • Orlando rose to #4 from #8, thanks to lower room rates and a higher safety score.
  • Guangzhou, China, fell from #6 to #10 as other cities improved while its metrics remained relatively static.
  • Valencia moved from #18 to #11 as safety scores improved and the number of monthly flights more than doubled.
  • Madrid's more than 45 percent increase in average hotel rates lands it at #23 from #14.
  • New additions to the global list include London (#21) and Copenhagen (#24), which replaced Qingdao, China, and Dubai.


The CCi uses a weighted system to determine which destinations are best suited to hosting large-scale events. Each city is evaluated across six categories. Note: Some cities have more than one convention center that meets the exhibit space criteria. The CCi data for these cities includes the total exhibit space, all nearby hotels and the average travel time from all eligible convention centers to the nearest international airport.

  • Indoor exhibit space is the primary benchmark for CCi consideration. U.S. destinations must have at least 500,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, while global destinations must meet a minimum of 1 million square feet of indoor exhibit space. Exhibit space amounts are sourced directly from the venue or CVB. 
  • Nearby hotel rooms were calculated using Google Maps and include all eligible hotels within a 15-minute walk of the convention center(s). 
  • Average room rates were based on Business Travel News' 2021 Q3 Corporate Travel Index.
  • Minutes to airport evaluates the travel time from the city's convention center(s) to the nearest international airport. Travel times were recorded for 7 a.m., without traffic, using Google Maps.
  • Safety scores were provided by GeoSure, an app that synthesizes data from sources like the CDC and the World Health Organization. Among factors considered: health and medical concerns (including Covid-19 data), daytime/nighttime safety, LGBTQ+ safety, women's safety, theft and basic freedoms. On a scale of 1 to 100, the higher the number, the safer the destination.
  • Flights per month were sourced from Cirium, an aviation analytics provider, which collects flight data from more than 2,000 sources, including airlines, airports and regulators. All direct flights into the area's airports were considered. CCi flight data is for December 2021; results might vary in other months.

Planners can download the June 2021 CCi to compare indices and read profiles of the top 25 convention cities in U.S. and top 25 conventions cities in the world. The data for all categories will be updated again in June 2022. 

United States

United States