By Matt Alderton
From superior airlift and accommodations to world-class dining and entertainment, "Tier 1" cities have a lot to offer meeting groups. There's just one problem: All that bang takes a lot of buck.
To make a big impact on a little budget, meeting planners should consider small and mid-sized cities, according to Successful Meetings Senior Editor Andrea Doyle.
"When price is an issue, cities that don't qualify as first-tier as far as meeting capacity and offerings provide plenty of other appeal," Doyle says. "Smaller markets often represent the authentic and the unexpected, and increasingly, they have the sleeping room inventory that larger meetings demand, thanks to new builds and alternatives to traditional hotels."
Still, finding big-city appeal in a smaller destination can be challenging. To increase your odds for success, Doyle recommends working with meeting suppliers that have venues in both types of markets, which are well positioned to build a bridge between them.
"In some instances, planners are turning to the big players in the industry that have properties in second- and third-tier cities," Doyle reports. "Take MGM Resorts International. Though best known for its resorts in Las Vegas, it has smaller offerings around the country, such as its newest property, the $950 million MGM Springfield, said to be New England's first integrated luxury resort and entertainment destination, scheduled to open Aug. 24. Similarly, Caesars Entertainment may be initially associated with its resorts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but also has resorts in Maricopa, Ariz.; Lake Tahoe and Funner (in San Diego County), Calif.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Joliet, Ill.; Elizabeth and Hammond, Ind.; Bossier City and New Orleans, La.; Biloxi and Tunica, Miss.; Baltimore; and more."
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