The annual E3 video game expo is held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)
What makes for a popular convention city?
Is it the size of the population or the quality of local attractions? No.
It’s all about the amount of meeting space.
That’s why Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas attract the really big gatherings, while Los Angeles continues to struggle to draw the mega-conventions.
It’s the conclusion of Cvent, one of the nation’s largest convention management and technology firms, based on the company’s analysis of a year’s worth of its bookings and other sales.
Cvent spokesman Eric Eden said cities that can offer huge meeting spaces and market the venues well are typically the most popular convention towns. Local attractions — theme parks, theaters and sports stadiums — play a minor roll in drawing conventions to a city.
“Some of the hotels in Orlando and Las Vegas literally have a million feet of meeting space,” he said.
In a ranking of the 50 most popular convention cities according to sales, Los Angeles came in 17th, far behind the top-ranked Orlando, Washington, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans.
Los Angeles, however, has made great progress in drawing tourists over the last few years.
In 2011, the city welcomed 27 million overnight visitors, setting a record for Los Angeles, according to the L.A. Tourism & Convention Board. The previous record of 25.9 million visitors was set in pre-recession 2007.
Still, the city’s top budget official recommended last week that Los Angeles consider turning over the management of its convention center to a private firm. This would save the city as much as $37 million over five years, the official said.
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