It could have been any prominent U.S. city, but Atlanta, Charlotte and San Diego round the top three most in demand destinations nationwide for small business meetings, according to Meetings.com.

The website revealed their latest findings on industry trends in consumer behavior from meeting and event planners who booked meeting space in North America within the last year. Collectively, it found the most popular cities offer quality venues with a variety of meeting rooms and flexible event spaces.

Based on Meetings.com’s criteria, small meetings are generally between 10-100 rooms. Based on the data, 50 percent of meeting and event planners book space at least 120 days out with only 12 percent waiting 30 days or less to find the ideal destination and venue. Planning ahead and booking early can pay off when it comes to staying within budget, especially if one is flexible with dates and preferences.

Aside from the meeting space itself, finding the right room layout is just as important. 37 percent of planners said they prefer a classroom layout above the rest due to its comfortable setup i for training, breakout sessions and small to medium group presentations. Small business meetings provide an easier way to manage team coordination and group focus, and allows for better engagement and productivity. 

According to Meetings.com, 88% of small business meetings are taking place domestically. In North America, the most in demand destinations are ones that cater to meeting and event planners looking for great value in an ideal location with close access to transportation, a variety of dining options and activities.

Here’s a breakdown of Meetings.com’s top destinations for small meetings.

San Diego made the top of the U.S. cities list for small business meetings at No. 1 due to its favorable climate, attractive beaches and plentiful attractions. The times of year driving these types of meetings in the city are in September and October as these months offer lower rates and a balance in weather.

San Diego Marriott La Jolla, Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, The Dana on Mission Bay and Wyndham San Diego Bayside all proved to be popular with groups based on Meetings.com's booking data.

Charlotte, N.C., came in second with Crowne Plaza and Renaissance Charlotte Suites as leading meeting space venues with the majority of their small business meetings being booked in the fall from October through early December. Visiting during the shoulder season is the best time of the year for the lowest rates.

Close behind, Atlanta rounded out the top three destinations with Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport North, and Ramada Plaza Atlanta Airport.

Las Vegas and Minneapolis, Minn., also came in respectfully in the fourth and fifth slot with noted properties La Quinta Inn & Suites Las Vegas Airport North, New York New York Hotel & Casino, Treasure Island Hotel & Casino as well as Doubletree Minneapolis Park Place and Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown.

Las Vegas works as a meeting destination year-round, but December to February are typically ideal months, while Minneapolis in the springtime avoids the summer tourist crowds and allows for reasonable rates.

As to the type of venue, meeting and event planners prefer an airport hotel with the added convenience of shuttle services to and from the site but still close enough to downtown amenities, as well as a suburban hotel which offers a quieter and more private location with roomier accommodations.

Requested Items and Overall Effectiveness

For planners and their attendees, having access to a multitude of offerings is critical to manage a highly effective small business meeting. According to Meetings.com, the most requested items include:

  • Adequate sleeping rooms.
  • Food & beverage options.
  • Projection equipment.
  • On-site AV equipment.
  • Fast and affordable Wi-Fi.
  • Airport shuttle availability.
  • A coffee and tea setup.

Meeting spaces equipped with the latest technology, catering services and venue support help create rich experiences that connect to the needs of attendees, according to Meetings.com. Based on the data uncovered, the trend for small group interaction and inclusive gathering places continues to grow.

Here is an infographic provided by Meetings.com with more information.