Paused during the pandemic, the destination rankings are back. ICCA and Cvent unveiled their latest report at IMEX Frankfurt.
Global tourism is performing better than before the Covid pandemic. Skift Research reports a full recovery of travel as the current Travel Health Index is above the 2019 high water level.
The Meetings Industry Rankings, which were not published during the Covid pandemic, are back after being released at IMEX Frankfurt this week.
Destinations are once again competing for the top spots, and as part of their business development strategies, the rankings continue to rise year on year.
Cvent revives destination ranking
According to Brian Ludwig, Cvent’s senior vice president of sales, Cvent’s users fall about 60 to 65 percent on the corporate side. This makes Cvent’s destination ranking a valid indicator of where corporate planners, agencies, and third parties acting on their behalf are looking to book meetings.
Cvent released its list of the top meeting destinations for the first time since the COVID pandemic brought the meetings and events industry to a halt. The ranking is compiled by analyzing group business value of over $14 billion in 2022 through the Cvent supplier network.
The criteria used to rank destinations are the number of total room nights booked; the number of unique electronic request-for-proposals (RFPs) sent to locations; the total value of the RFP submitted; and the actual price paid for meetings booked through the Cvent supplier network.
Cvent doesn’t share the weight of each criterion used, but at its press conference, Graham Pope, Cvent’s vice president of international sales, confirmed that if only one criterion were taken into account, the ranking would be different.
Nashville is the big winner, finishing second this year after sixth in 2019 and seventh the last two years. San Diego also climbed up the rankings in 2023, reaching the third spot after being ranked seventh in 2019. At number seven after always being in the top three.
Cvent’s Top 10 Meeting Spaces in North America
- Orlando Florida
- Nashville, Tennessee
- San Diego, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Chicago, Illinois
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Dallas, Texas
- Austin, Texas
- Phoenix / Scottsdale, Arizona
- Denver, Colorado
London is once again on top in Europe. The city’s Deputy Mayor Rajesh Agarwal was at IMEX, highlighting the city’s focus on attracting meeting business.
Barcelona, Spain, took second place, and Paris, France, ranked third, an improvement from fourth in 2019 and sixth place a year ago, undoubtedly fueled by investment around the 2024 Summer Olympics. The only newcomer to the European top 10 is Lisbon, Portugal, in fifth place, pipping Prague, Czech Republic, out of the top 10. Berlin moved from second to sixth place in 2019, while Madrid, Spain climbed from sixth to fourth.
Top 10 Meeting Places in Europe
- London, UK
- Barcelona, Spain
- Paris, France
- Madrid, Spain
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Berlin, Germany
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Rome, Italy
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Munich, Germany
In the Asia Pacific ranking, Singapore was named as the top meeting destination. followed by Sydney, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; Seoul, Republic of Korea; and Melbourne, Australia. Dubai, United Arab Emirates topped the Middle East and Africa ranking, followed by Istanbul, Turkey; Marrakesh, Morocco; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Cape Town, South Africa.
ICCA’s Association Meeting rankings tell a different story
The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) also brought back its annual country and city rankings. “This is a tremendous undertaking by our team, which is most welcomed by our members as ICCA country – and city – rankings always generate huge industry interest. It is heartening to see that the trend towards face-to-face meetings is once again has become very strong again and we anticipate that this trend will pick up in the coming year,” ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath said.
The US continues to top the global country rankings with Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the UK making the top 6 in that order and counting for more than a third of all meetings in the database. Vienna, Austria, returned to the top city position, followed by Lisbon, Portugal. Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; And Prague, Czech Republic, complete the top 5.
Looking at specific regions, Japan topped the Asia Pacific country ranking, followed by the Republic of Korea and Australia, while Singapore topped the city ranking, followed by Seoul, Republic of Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan.
Canada and Mexico follow behind the US top three in the North and Latin America country rankings, while city rankings include Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montreal, QC, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico as the top three.
South Africa topped the list of countries in Africa, followed by Morocco and Rwanda, with Cape Town, South Africa; Kigali, Rwanda; and Cairo, Egypt, the top three cities.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates leads with Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the country ranking. Abu Dhabi topped the city ranking above Dubai (both UAE), with Amman, Jordan in third place.
Data still shows Covid challenges
Marco van Etterzoon, senior manager of research and market analytics at ICCA, told a press conference that the new format is less focused on rankings. Etterzone also pointed out that the 2022 union meeting still includes a significant portion of meetings canceled or postponed due to the COVID pandemic.
ICCA’s research team identified more than 10,500 association-planned meetings that met its criteria (meetings rotate between at least three countries, attract at least 50 participants, and with a certain frequency are organized). Of these, nearly 9,000 meetings (86 percent) were mostly in-person, some in hybrid formats. This is much lower than the 2019 total of 13,254 meetings, with 79 per cent of the planned meetings and 68 per cent of the meetings held. Clearly, the association meetings are going well, but there is a way to go.
Ranking of government meetings coming soon
ICCA also revealed more details about their digital transformation, new website and CRM platform and member portal, which is part of their new partnership with Simpleview. The ICCA Association database will have a new name, ICCA Business Intelligence, with improvements to the user experience and management of data in the back end.
ICCA also said it will release a new database of intergovernmental meetings in the fall that will list government meetings that rotate between at least two countries. The association has high hopes for its new investment in data technology and how it can provide sustainable business opportunities to its members. “The digital transformation will make ICCA the go-to source for all things meetings and events,” Gopinath said.