The 2023 Convention Cities Index: tracking safety and not just costs

The world’s return to travel puts pressure on site-selection factors with rising hotel prices and shifting safety levels.

On the road again: high demand for travel will continue to put pressure on hotel rates.
On the road again: high demand for travel will continue to put pressure on hotel rates. Photo Credit: Adobe stock/gumpapa

Northstar Meetings Group’s latest 2023 Convention Cities Index (CCi) highlights high demand for travel, rising hotel rates, and shifting safety levels.

The CCi uses an in-depth methodology and weighted ranking system to determine the top 25 US cities and top 25 global destinations for hosting large events.

Higher hotel rates remain firm

Data from the June 2023 CCi shows that room rates in the United States have fallen slightly over the past six months but are above their pre-pandemic levels. For the top 25 US destinations on this year’s index, hotel rooms now average US$236, down 4% from six months ago but still 19% higher than the 2020 CCi, which averaged US$198 a night. New York continues to be the most expensive city in the US at $450, whilst Indianapolis is the most affordable US city at just US$172.

The average hotel price for the top 25 global destinations for 2023 is US$167, on par with the previous CCi and US$3 less than the pre-pandemic rate.

Room rates in Europe cost more than those in Asia, and average US$178 a night, just below the 2020 rate of US$181. The most expensive European destination is London at US$263, while Dusseldorf, Germany, is the most affordable, at US$137.

In Asia, room rates average US$116, down 13% from US$133 in 2020. Prices for Chinese cities range between US$93 to US$99, while other destinations — such as Bangkok and Singapore cost US$120 and US$240 per night, respectively. Shanghai tops the global CCi list in terms of total exhibition space, with some 603,870 sqm across two major venues, the Shanghai New International Expo Center, and the National Exhibition and Convention Center. The city has about 337,000 hotel rooms which average US$95 a night.

From the latest Northstar Meetings Group/Cvent Meetings Industry PULSE Survey, 75% of respondents who planned cross-border events pre-Covid are doing so now. These planners are most interested in booking with the type of destinations featured in the CCi, with the majority (54%) saying the demand for major cities and city centres has increased.

However, rising prices will influence site-selections decisions and planners have ranked higher costs as their top concern in the past seven cycles of the PULSE Survey, dating from March 2022 to March 2023.

Destination safety levels

Destinations are becoming safer, but planners must continue to keep this category top-of-mind when selecting a host city for their convention and consider all possible risk factors.

The safety scores of the top 25 global CCi cities have continued to move upwards. The average safety rating in June 2022 was 68.4 out of 100 (higher numbers indicate a safer city). This increased to 73.72 in December 2022 and now stays at 74.4 on the June 2023 CCi.

These scores are provided by the safety-awareness app GeoSure, which measures seven factors, including health and medical data, night time safety, women’s safety and LGBTQ+ safety. Singapore, with more than 73,000 hotel rooms, leads globally in safety, with the nation scoring an impressive 92 out of 100 on GeoSure’s safety index, far above the global CCi average of 74.4. However, room rates are nearly US$240 per night.

Overall, the safety ratings in Asian cities surged 22% over the past year, from an average score of 60 in June 2022 to 73.25 in June 2023. In comparison, safety scores for the European destinations in our top 25 increased 5 percent year-over-year from an average of 75.08 to 78.58.

In the US, safety has not grown in line with its global CCi counterparts. In fact, average scores have dropped slightly year-over-year, from an average of 65.92 in June 2022 to 63.08 in June 2023. San Diego and Phoenix tied for the best safety rating on the US list, earning scores of 73.

As safety levels shift regularly, planners are advised to monitor these statistics closely.


The Convention Cities Index relies on extensive research and a weighted methodology to calculate the final scores for each destination. Cities are evaluated based on the following criteria:

· Convention centre size is the primary benchmark for CCi consideration. US destinations must have at least 46,451 sqm of indoor exhibit space, while global destinations must meet a minimum of 92,903 sqm of indoor exhibit space. These amounts are sourced directly from the venues or convention and visitor bureaus. Some cities have more than one convention centre that meets the exhibit space criteria. The CCi data for these cities includes the total exhibit space and average travel time from all eligible convention centres to the nearest international airport.

· Total hotel rooms were provided by STR and account for all guest rooms within the city. Past cycles of the CCi relied on research via Google Maps to identify the number of rooms within a 15-minute walk of the convention centre.

· Average travel times between the convention centres and nearest international airport were calculated using Google Maps. Travel times were recorded for 7am without traffic.

· Average room rates were based on Business Travel News’ 2023 Corporate Travel Index, which uses hotel data from Advito, HRS, Emburse and Prime Numbers.

· Safety scores were provided by GeoSure, an app that synthesises data from sources such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. Among factors considered: health and medical concerns, nighttime safety, LGBTQ+ safety, women’s safety, theft and basic freedoms.