A Five-Borough Business Events Strategy for Overtourism

Author: David McMillin       

Flushing Meadows Corona Park. (Photo courtesy Kate Glicksberg/NYC & Company)

Tourists to New York City — and there were a record-setting 65.2 million of them in 2018 — will likely want to check Manhattan’s Empire State Building, Times Square, and Central Park off their must-visit lists. Manhattan has historically been the go-to destination for meetings and events as well as leisure travelers in New York City, however, America’s biggest city is comprised of four other boroughs — Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens.

To spread the wealth of business travelers, NYC & Company has been working to educate event organizers on opportunities offered by the rest of the city with resources like its five-borough guide, an introduction to the attendee experience in each of the distinct sections, and a hotel zone map that includes a borough-by-borough breakdown of the organization’s member hotels and event spaces. The collateral is a business-to-business reflection of NYC & Company’s consumer-focused push to inspire leisure guests and solo business travelers to explore outside the city center. In its Destination 2030 report that assessed cities’ readiness to deal with the impacts of overtourism, the World Travel & Tourism Council singled out the organization’s strategy as “a strong and positive example of action” to manage the flow of visitors and reduce the potential for overcrowding.

Some event organizers readily embrace the idea of bringing attendees to other corners of New York City. “While NYC & Company has always focused on spreading business throughout the city in its entirety, more and more, we find planners intrigued by neighborhoods, venues, dining, and activities across the five boroughs,” Jerry Cito, executive vice president of convention development, NYC & Company, told Convene. “Planners are pushing themselves,” he added, “to explore the unexpected.”

Cito cited Proud Experiences, an event that brought together travel suppliers and buyers targeting the LGBTQ+ community at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, and the Fortnite World Cup, an e-sports event hosted at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, as two recent examples. He also pointed to the hotel-development pipeline — which, according to Simpleview data, currently includes 19 properties in Brooklyn and 34 in Queens — as evidence that the “trend will undoubtedly continue.”

This story is part of Convene’s CMP Series, which enables readers to earn one hour of CE credit toward CMP certification from the Events Industry Council. Find the main story, “Crowd Control,” and other required reading; for access to additional CMP Series stories, go to the CMP Series page.