Today, Cvent released its annual list of the top 100 meeting hotels in the U.S., and while the usual suspects made the list -- respected properties in destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando -- this year's edition also included a number of newcomers.
"There are 18 new properties that made the list this year," Eric Eden, vice president of marketing for Cvent, told Successful Meetings. They include the Omni Nashville Hotel; Renaissance Nashville Hotel; Marriot Marquis Washington, D.C.; The Phoenician, Scottsdale; and the Sheraton New York Times Square.
Among the top 20 properties, three were based in Nashville, a destination that has recently received a tremendous amount of investment in its meetings and hotel infrastructure, Eden pointed out. "That city spent millions to redo the convention center there and to have these hotels there. It just goes to show that when a city or a destination and hotel companies invest, it can have a dramatic influence on where meetings are happening," Eden said.
He added: "Planners are looking at places like Nashville where there are brand-new hotels and where not as many people have been to before. Planners follow the investment; they follow where the hotel companies are investing. That's why this list changes every year."
Dominant destinations such as Florida, Las Vegas, and California continued to show their strength in this year's list, too. The top spot went to ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas, while the state of Florida had the most properties on the list with a total of 20, 12 of which were situated in the meetings hub of Orlando. "Larger meetings tend to go to Orlando and Vegas, but what's really interesting is seeing Nashville and Chicago featured so prominently here," said Eden. Chicago had a total of nine properties, as did Las Vegas and California. Seven properties in Arizona made the list.
Cvent's annual list was compiled from data collected between September 2013 and August 2014, and includes the number of received requests for proposals (RFPs); awarded RFPs; total room nights; awarded room nights; major metropolitan area market share; conversion rate; and the property's unique profile visits in the Cvent Supplier Network. All properties on the list must have more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space and more than 10 meeting rooms.
"Since we're a marketplace, we have over 1 million RFPs flowing through our system every year. We are seeing where planners are sending RFPs, and which hotels are winning the business, and the hotel's market share in a city," Eden explained.
Eden said that this year's data also shows an increase in occupancy rates and average daily rates and that, "overall, things are headed in a positive direction. I think planners are thinking about where they can have the best experience for their attendees."
Another trend that Cvent's data accumulation shows is that all meetings industry players are paying much more attention to technology. "Yes, events are growing but what's more interesting is that people are adopting technology at a much faster pace than at events. We see trends toward mobile and social media being used to make the event experience that much better and people are really starting to embrace that. They are embracing the technology and realizing the benefits of that."
The growing use of technology in today's meetings industry also explains Cvent's recent decision to acquire Santa Barbara, CA-based Elite Meetings International. Eden said that the company's proprietary technologies -- Attendee Hub and Speed RFP -- were particularly complementary to Cvent's Supplier Network and that Cvent plans to apply and grow both technologies on its own platform.
"There's a lot of synergy for us to do things like take those products and be able to make it available for our more than 6,000 hotel customers or clients," said Eden. "We want to increase what they've built and make it all work together in the long term."