Barcelona, Bali and Paris are among the most popular meeting and incentive destinations around the world, with California topping the US list, according to the 2023 Global Destination Index from Global DMC Partners (GDP).
The listing was compiled based on both booked and pending business across GDP’s DMC partners worldwide.
The top 10 international destinations are:
- Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
- Indonesia (Bali)
- France (Paris)
- Costa Rica (Guanacaste)
- Mexico (Punta Mita, Cancun)
- South Africa (Cape Town)
- England (London)
- Italy (Rome, Milan)
- Vietnam (Hanoi, Da Nang)
The Top 10 US destinations are:
- California (Palm Springs, San Diego)
- Texas (Austin, Dallas)
- Illinois (Chicago)
- New York (New York City)
- Colorado (Denver)
- Florida (Miami, Orlando)
- Washington, D.C. 7. (Washington)
- Arizona (Scottsdale, Phoenix)
- Louisiana (New Orleans)
- South Carolina (Palmetto Bluff)
“It is lovely to see the far-reaching destinations that have made this year’s list; finally, the world has opened up, giving more opportunities to planners and their attendees,” said Global DMC Partners President & CEO Catherine Chaulet. “Demand is at an all-time high, and the destinations in the top 10 are more diverse than in previous years.”
The Rise of Secondary Cities
On both the U.S. and international rankings, a notable new trend is emerging. While some destinations once relied on a single city as the primary magnet for groups, a multitude of secondary locations are gaining prominence.
A prime example can be found in Italy, where the allure of Rome and Milan remains high, but recent trends indicate a surge in interest in secondary destinations such as Lake Como, Sicily, Genoa, Venice, Puglia and Amalfi Coast.
Key industry trends
Separately GDP has also released the results of its Q2/Q3 Meetings & Events Pulse Survey, which reveals that while increasing costs remain a top challenge for planners, less than 40% of planners say their budgets increased across 2023 for meetings and incentives
The survey polled 200 meeting and event professionals, 60% of whom are U.S.-based, with 19 percent in the UK and Europe, and nine percent in Canada. Respondents were divided between corporate/direct planners (58%) and agency/third-party planners (42%).
Higher costs continue to be the number one challenge for planners (75%), followed by finding availability (51%). Timely approval from decision-makers, responsiveness, service levels/quality, contract negotiations and budget management are all very closely ranked in third place.
Many planners remain unsure about 2024 budgets; however, 37% say their 2024 meeting budgets are increasing, while 26% report 2024 incentive budgets are increasing. Over one-third of planners report that their meeting and incentive budgets will remain stagnant from 2023 to 2024.
Inflation is the number one reason that budgets are changing, but they are not necessarily getting larger. In some cases, the rising costs are forcing meeting and incentive budgets to increase. However, rising costs are also causing some budgets to decrease as organisations need to allocate spending elsewhere. For 71% of planners, rising airfare costs are still affecting the destinations chosen for meetings and events.
Overall, compared to the report from one year ago, 20% more organisations are now building sustainability goals into their travel, meetings and event programs.
Reducing plastic usage and waste is reported as the top sustainability goal for most organisations’ meetings and events, followed by using locally sourced food options and carbon tracking and offsetting.
Sustainability can also be a factor in determining the destination for a meeting or event with 50% reporting that sustainability can sometimes be a factor and 30% reporting that it is a factor in choosing a destination for upcoming programs.