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In January, Lexington, Ky., saw year-over-year event growth of 76 percent.

Considering Meeting in a Second-Tier City? Join the Crowd

Data on meeting bookings in January reveals strong year-over-year growth for secondary markets, outstripping the gains seen by top-tier cities.

In its 2024 State of the Meetings Industry Survey, Knowland, a meetings-data provider for the hospitality industry, found that 53 percent of planners said they were considering holding their meetings in a secondary market to reduce costs.

New data from Knowland suggests that those “considerations” are now practice.

In Knowland’s new report on meeting bookings in January 2024, the top 25 markets continue to post strong bookings, but many secondary markets are greatly outpacing them.

A comparison of the year-over-year growth in meeting volume in the top-tier and secondary meeting markets reveals a growing popularity of the latter—destinations that are typically smaller with less airlift, but often more budget-friendly and easy to navigate. Here are the top five January performers in each group:

Secondary Cities Y-O-Y Growth in Event Volume
Lexington, Ky.: 76.4 percent
Syracuse, N.Y.: 34.6 percent
Richmond-Petersburg, Va.: 33.4 percent
Oklahoma City, Okla.: 29.1 percent
Louisville, Ky.: 24.1 percent

Top-Tier Cities Y-O-Y Growth in Event Volume
Nashville: 16.1 percent
Detroit: 10.4 percent
New Orleans: 7.8 percent
San Francisco-San Mateo: 7.3 percent
Tampa-St. Petersburg: 5.3 percent

Interestingly, the average size of groups meeting in top-tier cities was not substantially different than in secondary cities. The average space used for meetings in the top 25 markets was 3,426 square feet while secondary markets came in at 3,000 square feet. The average attendance in the top 25 cities was 124, while secondary markets averaged 118 attendees.

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