Descriptors Not Designators

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<span>Descriptors Not Designators</span>

Key Attributes of 1st, 2nd, 3rd Tier Cities

Defining tiers in the meetings industry has been an often discussed topic, yet no definitive research has been conducted to help define and clarify them. We do know that tiers are descriptions, not designations, and descriptions are subject to perception. Unfortunately, some of the perceptions or assumptions planners make could keep them from finding a great destination.

What We Can Say About Destination Tiers

  • An official list with specific tier qualifications doesn’t exist
  • There are general characteristics or attributes that apply to each tier
  • A first tier destination to one planner may be a second tier to another planner
  • Tiers do not denote quality or services

Whereas hotels have a rating system that awards 3, 4, or 5 stars to properties based on their quality, size, services and amenities, no such system exists for rating meeting destinations. While there are some common tier realities, there is a lot of gray area when defining tiers.  There are many distinct attributes of each tier, and understanding those just might help you consider a few destinations not previously on your radar!

Don’t let subjective tier designations define which destinations you consider. While 2nd and 3rd tier cities might be known for being more affordable, there are still plenty of affordable options in 1st tier destinations, especially if you are flexible with dates. Additionally, 2nd and 3rd tier destinations, depending on the meeting size, can offer just about everything a 1st tier destination has. The key is keeping your own meeting objectives in mind first and then understanding how destinations, regardless of tier, will be the perfect compliment.

Essential Attributes of a 1st Tier Destination

First tier destinations might be the easiest to define. They are typically the biggest convention cities in the country such as Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, etc. While each of these cities is very different in terms of size and location, there are certain characteristics they all have in common such as:

  • Airport with ample nonstop national and international access
  • Hotel inventory that includes major hotel brands
  • Abundant dining, entertainment, and attraction options for attendees
  • 10,000 minimum committable sleeping rooms
  • Convention center with a minimum of 500,000 gross square feet of exhibit space
  • Considered one of the top 25 destinations for group business
  • Distinctive leisure-travel appeal

Essential Attributes of a 2nd Tier Destination             

We know 1st tier destinations are pretty easy to identify based upon certain measurable attributes (size, airport airlift, etc.). But how do you measure and/or perceive what is a 2nd or 3rd tier destination? This is where it gets a little more complicated. Often times, a destination is categorized to be a tier 2 destination simply because of its size, and thus may also be perceived as being more affordable. Key attributes include:

  • Affordable, better value
  • Attracts a regional drive market
  • Convention facilities with less than 500,000 gross square feet
  • Regional airport with less nonstop or direct airlift
  • Largest convention venue generally a single hotel or conference center

While a second tier destination may not have a lot of international airlift, 10,000 committable hotel rooms, or large meeting/exhibit space, it doesn’t mean that these destinations don’t have world-class facilities and amenities.  They are also investing in infrastructure and community assets that make them comparable to many top tier destinations.

Essential Attributes of a 3rd Tier Destination

The key is to not consider a 3rd tier destination as being third class. Third tier is really just based on the size of the city and its convention offerings, not quality or even cost. For example, some of the most luxurious resorts are located in destinations considered third tier, simply because of the destination size. Characteristics of a third tier destination include:

  • Regional airport with less nonstop or direct airlift
  • Largest convention venue generally a single hotel or conference center
  • Convention facilities less than 500,000 gross square feet
  • Attracts a regional drive market
  • Distinctive leisure travel appeal

Often times, third tier destinations are the choice for incentive travel and find themselves competing for the business along with first and second tier destinations.

Advantages of Holding Your Meeting in a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Tier Destination

The key is understanding the strengths and attributes each tier represents. Do you want your medium-sized convention to feel like the “big fish” in a destination? If yes, go with a 2nd or 3rd tier destination. Or, what if you have a small meeting but need the convenience of a large international airlift? A first-tier destination might be the best fit. The key is to look at each destination with fresh eyes and determine how it can work for you.

Where You Can Research 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Tier Destinations

Whether you need to create a list of first, second, or third tier destinations, Destinations International’s Destination Finder is an invaluable tool. You can easily search and compare meeting needs across multiple destinations. Additionally, planners can easily search destinations that include the minimum number of committable rooms required, total exhibit space required, and much more.

Curating Meeting Experiences

No matter the size of the destination, there are destination experts to help you.

Suppose your meeting requires the flexible travel options of a 1st tier destination, but the accommodations of maybe a 2nd tier destination? Or you are looking for a high-end meeting experience but in a smaller, more intimate destination? That’s where the experts at the convention and visitors bureau (CVB) can help.

The CVB sales professionals are the best first point of contact to help planners FIND the right fit for any size meeting. They offer:

  • A comprehensive view of the destination
  • Local expertise
  • Extensive in-market relationships
  • Free to planners

To research destinations, find out what’s new, and connect to CVB experts at more than 155 top meeting destinations, search and compare destinations with meeting locations and key stats.