New York City, London Among Cities Topping Planners’ Lists

Author: Cristi Kempf       

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New York City moved from second place last year to first in the latest rankings on CWT’s top 10 cities for meetings and events in North America. (Courtesy NYC & Company)

New York City is in first position on CWT’s top 10 cities for meetings and events in North America in 2020; London took the lead in rankings for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Shanghai is No. 1 in the Asia Pacific (APAC) market; and Sao Paulo is foremost among Latin American destinations.

The 2020 lists, released Wednesday, are based on proprietary and industry data — including volume of business and booking trends — in CWT’s 2020 Meetings & Events Future Trends report, to be published Sept. 10.

While London, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo occupied the same top spots on CWT’s 2019 lists, New York rose from second place last year to first in the latest rankings for North America, beating out Las Vegas, which fell from first to 10th place.

That change, Beau Ballin, CWT’s vice president, commercial leader, North America, told Convene, is tied to myriad factors including the cyclical nature of event bookings. But it also reflects New York’s storied appeal coupled with such recent draws as Hudson Yards, with its Vessel structure (an “Instagrammable tourist destination”), the ongoing expansion of the Javits Center (due to be complete in 2021), and value.

In New York — and even Chicago, which moved up six spots in a year, to third position from ninth — planners are finding competitive rates.

“If you’re looking at the Plaza on Central Park … good luck,” Ballin said. “But we are finding value in New York.” And, he added, the same is true in Chicago.

“Vegas isn’t hurting,” Ballin said, noting that it just hasn’t had to be as competitive when it comes to rates. As more hotel room inventory comes online, that may change. He said he expects the pendulum to swing back for Las Vegas, especially once its Allegiant Stadium opens next year, providing a fresh draw for visitors.

Overall, CWT said, demand for meetings and events continues to rise in North America, but the pace of growth has fallen as a result of “political headwinds.”

“Political events have a direct impact more than ever on companies’ quarterly and annual outlooks,” said Tony Wagner, CWT’s vice president, Americas and South Pacific regions. “Some industry segments are pulling back and are being a bit more cautious.”

Fears of an economic slump, CWT said, are affecting booking times, shortening some by several months.

Meanwhile, planners’ demand for value continues to push events to second-tier cities, Ballin said. In a statement, CWT called out five second-tier destinations “that are expected to make waves next year, including last year’s Super Bowl host, Minneapolis, as well as Indianapolis, Austin, Houston, and Portland.”

“I keep repeating,” Ballin said, “that it goes back to value.” Value is also a key factor in London’s retention of the top spot on the EMEA list, despite uncertainty caused by Brexit.

“London and the U.K. continue to be strong for meetings and events,” Ian Cummings, CWT’s vice president, EMEA, said. “The uncertainty over Brexit — and the resulting devaluation of the pound — has made the U.K. an even more attractive destination.”

In APAC, the same cities made both the 2019 and 2020 lists, with China home to the most entries. There, CWT noted, as it did for North America, that the trade war between China and United States is having an impact and could derail APAC growth. And, CWT said, protests in Hong Kong are “being closely watched by the business community.”

Meanwhile, in Latin America, “The wait-and-see attitude that came with the 2018 presidential elections in Latin America’s two biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, have given way to expectations of explosive growth in 2020-21,” Gustavo Elbaum, CWT’s senior director, Latin America, said.

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The Vessel at Hudson Yards helped boost New York City to the top spot in North America. (Courtesy NYC & Company)

The top 10 cities for meetings and events in North America (versus 2019):

  1. New York (2)
  2. San Francisco (8)
  3. Chicago (9)
  4. Atlanta (-)
  5. Toronto (-)
  6. San Diego (-)
  7. Seattle (7)
  8. Orlando (3)
  9. Dallas/Fort Worth (6)
  10. Las Vegas (1)
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London repeated as the No. 1-ranked city on CWT’s list of top cities for meetings and events in the the Europe, Middle East, and African regions. (visitlondon.com/Ben Pipe)

The top 10 cities for meetings and events in EMEA (versus 2019):

  1. London, UK (1)
  2. Frankfurt, Germany (10)
  3. Paris, France (9)
  4. Berlin, Germany (4)
  5. Barcelona, Spain (3)
  6. Milan, Italy (-)
  7. Cologne, Germany (8)
  8. Stockholm, Sweden (7)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (-)
  10. Vienna, Austria (6)
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Shanghai repeated its top finish In the APAC region, with most cities on the list in China.

The top 10 cities for meetings and events in APAC (versus 2019):

  1. Shanghai, China (1)
  2. Beijing, China (3)
  3. Singapore (2)
  4. Bangkok, Thailand (4)
  5. Sydney, Australia (5)
  6. Tokyo, Japan (6)
  7. Hong Kong, China (7)
  8. Mumbai, India (9)
  9. Melbourne, Australia (8)
  10. Chengdu, China (10)
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Avenida Paulista, with the Sao Paulo Museum of Art (right), is a top destination in the Brazilian city.

The top 10 cities for meetings and events in Latin America (versus 2019):

  1. Sao Paulo, Brazil (1)
  2. Bogota, Colombia (3)
  3. Lima, Peru (6)
  4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (4)
  5. Mexico City, Mexico (2)
  6. Curitiba, Brazil (9)
  7. Medellin, Colombia (10)
  8. Belo Horizonte, Brazil (-)
  9. Buenos Aires, Argentina (-)
  10. Cartagena, Colombia (-)