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5 Cities on the Rise for Events in 2020


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The event world is booming in North America. Last year, Las Vegas, New York, and Orlando, FL were the top three cities for which events were held. However, as 2020 takes off, planners are mixing it up — and getting more bang for their buck — in these 5 U.S. destination cities on the rise.

Austin, TX

Legendary live music (in many venues), outstanding food, scenic bike trails and innovative meeting spaces make Austin, TX a no-brainer. The city’s airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is a convenient 15 minute drive from the Austin Convention Center and downtown. 

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“From relaxing spa treatments to energizing hikes, indie films to funky concerts, there’s always something playing in Austin. Here, in the Lone Star capital, a rich Texan history meets a progressive population of artists, politicos, outdoor enthusiasts and commercial pioneers,” says Katherine Wise, Communications Manager of Visit Austin

“Get down to business in the capital of Texas and gateway to the rolling Hill Country. With all the amenities you'll need for work and want for play, Austin offers a compact downtown and state-of-the-art convention center within walking distance of live music, distinctive dining, outdoor attractions and more.”

This dynamic city is sure to keep guests comfortable and engaged. 

Portland, OR

Portland Event Destination

Not only is it one of America’s greenest cities, Portland embraces the “alternative, mainstream and traditional all at once.” It’s an inclusive, friendly and forward-thinking place. 

We’ve talked with you about sustainable event planning, and Portland is showing us how the concept is becoming less of a trend, and more of a shift in the culture. For example, the Oregon Convention Center, which is the largest event venue in the Pacific Northwest, supports the environment through enacting substantial energy reduction, striving toward an 80% waste diversion rate, working with small and regional supply chains and more! 

Portland encourages idea-sharing, the arts and community. Its downtown is walkable with an exciting, affordable and local foodie scene including lots of breweries, bunch spots, wine and coffee. Visitors appreciate the boutique style shops and lodging with breathtaking parks and nature trails nearby (the Japanese Garden is a can’t-miss!).

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis Event Destination

As one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities, Minneapolis is becoming a major cultural hub. It’s home to several modern venues including stadiums and centers for the arts. Microbreweries are all the rage and downtown is compact and easy to get around on foot — or Metro light rail. Lodging is made easy with over 7,000 rooms downtown at varying price points and most hotels are a short stroll to the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

As planners, we know that location is important and geographically, this city is no more than a 3 hour flight to just about anywhere in the country. If your guests are coming from many different starting points, this may be the common denominator in terms of travel. Best of all, with lower costs than comparable smaller cities, such as Chicago, New Orleans or Denver, this city is going to be one of the friendliest to your budget. 

With climate controlled skyways, beautiful parks, designer shops and museums, Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association describes the city as “the perfect blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication.” 

Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis is known for its motor speedway and Indy 500 race every year, but it’s also chock full of tasty food, gorgeous outdoor space and waterways, a love of winning sports teams and lively festivals and concerts. 

There is no shortage of fun activities in Indy, nor event space. USA Today named the city “#1 Convention City in the U.S.” The city offers over 700,000 feet of exhibition space and plenty of hotel rooms downtown. 

This city may be especially fitting for your event if you’re in the tech, life science or engineering fields. 16 Tech is an innovative district in the historic Riverside neighborhood made up of the regions top-ranking research universities and corporations. The area prides itself on stimulating a creative energy and forward-thinking, collaborative spirit.

Houston, TX

Houston, we have no problems. NASA’s mission control is in Space Center Houston, and the city is also home to the largest fine art museum in the southwest. With a zoo, arboretum & nature center and a 52-mile buffalo bayou, your guests will have plenty of exciting outdoor activities in which to participate. 

Houston offers state-of-the-art facilities and hosts very successful and large-scale events including the Super Bowl, International Quilt Festival and Offshore Technology Conference. Check out  George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Park

Getting around is easy and affordable. With the Metro system you and your guests will be able to explore the heart of the city, downtown and theater district. Build in enough free time or incorporate local activities into your event so that attendees can soak up some of the cowboy culture, sports enthusiasm and vibrant art scene in this city! 

How can MeetingPlay help?

We understand the importance of location. Each region’s unique culture, traditions, sites and cuisine can be incorporated into your event to make it a special and memorable experience.  In fact, we just designed an event experience for one of our clients that tied into their location. Read the case study here.

In the meantime, keep your eye on these slightly-smaller-yet-bustling cities as they’re quite affordable when compared to bigger city destinations and will keep your guests entertained and engaged.

Want more tips on events and event technology? Find out how we can help by contacting MeetingPlay for a demo!

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