Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

Most Popular Meeting and Incentive Destinations of 2019, 2020

The hottest destinations for meetings and conferences this year? Paris; Copenhagen, Denmark; Chicago; San Francisco; and Budapest, Hungary. Wait, Budapest? That’s right, said Catherine Chaulet, president and CEO of Global DMC Partners, which every year compiles its Global Destination Index based on data collected from almost 7,000 meeting and incentive programs in the 500-plus destinations the organization’s independently owned destination management companies (DMCs) represent.

“Because our client database is global, we are able to see some surprising destinations that show up on either [meeting or incentive] list or on both and provide valuable insights,” explained Chaulet. “For example, Budapest is a popular location for European meetings but also a top pick for incentive trips from the Americas.”

Rounding out the top 10 meeting hot spots for 2019 are Orlando, Fla.; Barcelona, Spain; Washington, D.C.; Prague; and Las Vegas.

For incentives, Costa Rica took the top spot in 2019, followed by France; Bahamas; Italy; Miami; Budapest; Lisbon, Portugal; Prague; Cancun, Mexico; and Aruba.

While meetings, conferences and incentives bring a boon to local economies in terms of both dollars and jobs, they also can bring disruption and overtourism, replacing the traditional local economic engines with tourism-driven business.

“During a time when travel is more accessible to the masses than ever before, we have a responsibility to inform and educate in order to alleviate overtourism and undertourism,” Chaulet said. “The meetings and events industry must bring awareness to emerging or secondary destinations while showcasing ‘hidden gems’ within popular markets to avoid already overly toured areas.”

Global DMC Partners predicts San Diego; Nashville, Tenn.; Singapore; Las Vegas; and New Orleans will be the biggest meeting draws in 2020. For incentives, the top five 2020 destinations will be Greece, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Budapest and Aruba.

The Year’s Most Sustainable Cities
If sustainability is important to your organization’s mission and your attendees’ sensibilities, the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index has come out with its 2019 rankings. Now in its fourth year, the GDS Index ranks the 58 cities in its network based on environmental strategy and infrastructure; social sustainability performance; the city’s convention bureau sustainability strategy; and industry supply chain support.

Topping the list for the fourth year is Gothenburg, Sweden, followed by Copenhagen, which is rapidly improving its sustainability score; Zurich; and Glasgow, Scotland. Gothenburg also won the 2019 Leadership Award. The innovation award went to Sydney for its “Sustainable Destination Partnership,” a multistakeholder collaboration that has resulted in the environmental footprinting of the Sydney hospitality sector, and then the co-creation of a strategy to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon emissions and divert 90% of its waste by 2030. The Most Improved Award for the first time went to an entire region, Meet in Ireland.

Visit the GDS Index page to see the full listing of the top 20 destinations. The index was founded and is endorsed by IMEX, MCI, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and European Cities Marketing. It was created specifically for the meetings and events industry, is an official partner of the United Nations One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, and aligns its work with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 Agenda.



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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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