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Small Markets, Big Benefits

When you ask officials in second- and third-tier cities how they market their destinations to larger events, they will almost always tell you that they say they have all the amenities of a big city with the affordability, convenience and charm of a smaller town. And the claim often holds true.

Small market cities have long served as choice getaways from crowded and pricey metropolitan areas, providing planners with top-notch meeting facilities and lodging at a fraction of the cost. Certain cities may be small, but their conference and hotel amenities often cater to groups of all sizes.

Here are some of the top reasons planners should consider hosting their next meeting or event in small to mid-sized destinations.


Planners are always searching for ways to stretch their budgets, and taking meetings or conventions to smaller cities, even those just a short distance from major metropolitan areas, can slash the cost of venue rentals, lodging and dining in half. What’s more, parking fees are typically marginal to nonexistent.

“When we tell clients from bigger cities the cost of parking here, they’re almost always shocked at how inexpensive it is,” said Lee Adamson, director of sales at Explore Utah Valley.

To compete with bigger cities, many small market regions offer planners considerable financial incentives. In Sarasota County, Florida, planners can earn room rebates, dining credit and transportation credit depending on peak room nights, which helps offset the cost of transporting any attendees from Tampa who cannot find flights to the regional airport.