2021 Convention Cities Index Showcases Best Destinations for Large Events

Northstar Meetings Group's CCi provides comparative data on the top destinations.

Download the 2021 CCi
The second-annual CCi provides comparative data on the top destinations for the world’s largest events. Download it here.

Selecting a convention destination can be difficult in the best of times; in a pandemic, it's even trickier. Among key considerations now are space for social distancing; ample direct airlift; and safety factors, including health concerns.

NMG's second-annual Convention Cities Index is an essential tool to help planners of large events narrow their choices. The first and only of its kind, the CCi uses extensive research and a weighted system to identify the top destinations for meetings in the U.S. and around the world.

New to this year's CCi is the addition of direct flights per month as one of the six evaluation categories of the index's in-depth methodology. The other factors are the amount of indoor exhibit space at each city's largest convention center, number of hotel rooms within 15 minutes' walking distance, average cost of a hotel room, travel time (without traffic) from the nearest major international airport to the convention center and the city's safety level for travelers.

"It's great to see the second edition of the Convention Cities Index by Northstar Meetings Group," said David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events. "The index is a simple, unbiased and easy-to-use guide for the world's top destinations, and the inclusion of the number of daily flights is a great addition."

"The beauty of this index is its aggregation of data representing the fundamental elements of an event organizer's buying decision," said David Blansfield, executive vice president and group publisher of Northstar Meetings Group. "Based on the characteristics of the business event, the budget and the priorities of the organizers and the attendees, the CCi provides in one place a relative comparison of all the key variables in all the major convention cities to help planners short-list the best destinations to host their events."

Final rankings are on a weighted scale of 100 points. Because site-selection needs vary for every event, planners can use the CCi's raw data to evaluate cities based on their priorities. 

CCi Data Sources

Convention center size is the initial benchmark for consideration. U.S. venues with a minimum of 500,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space were evaluated. The minimum for the global ranking was 1 million square feet. In some destinations, more than one convention center met the size criteria; those city rankings were based on total exhibit space and nearby hotel rooms, and the average travel time from all facilities to the nearest international airport.

• Nearby hotels and average airport travel times were calculated using Google Maps. Travel times were recorded for 7 a.m., without traffic.

• Average hotel rates were based on the Business Travel News 2021 Q1 Corporate Travel Index

• Safety scores are from 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), 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 are 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 data is for May 2021; results might vary in other months.

Download the full 2021 CCi report with details on the 25 domestic and 25 international destinations, and be sure to also check out the 2020 CCi.

WATCH NOW: Choosing the Best Convention Destinations for 2021

The research team behind the CCi — Northstar’s vice president and content director Loren Edelstein and senior associate editor Elise Schoening, along with Michael Becker, CEO of GeoSure — discussed the second-annual CCi during a recent webinar. Watch now!