Aug 8, 2022 - Business

Nashville looks to attract more conventions

Exterior photo of the Music City Center in Nashville.

Music City Center. Photo: John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nashville's top tourism executive says the city has a prime opportunity to propel its convention business when it hosts "the Super Bowl of meetings" later this month.

Driving the news: The annual meeting for the American Society of Association Executives will take place Aug. 20-23 at Music City Center.

  • As its name suggests, the ASAE is an association for associations. It provides guidance and resources for how to run an organization well.

Why it matters: For Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. CEO Butch Spyridon, each attendee at this year's ASAE conference represents a future association conference Nashville could host.

State of play: Spyridon says conventions account for about 40% of the city's tourism business, with association meetings a critical piece of that percentage. The Mortgage Bankers Association meeting, which will be here in October, is an example of the kind of annual convention Nashville hopes it can recruit at ASAE.

  • The explosion of new downtown hotel developments has made recruiting association meetings even more important. Nashville currently has 38,296 hotel rooms, giving Spyridon's team enough supply to lure any association meeting.

What they're saying: While companies could scale back business travel during an economic downturn, associations tend to invest in annual conventions, Spyridon says.

  • "With a potential recession looming, that is typically the time when corporate meetings retract, but association meetings typically move forward," Spyridon says. "We hope it's the true redefining relaunch of meetings post-pandemic," Spyridon says.
  • The good news for Nashville's prospects is that more associations are planning future meetings after a two-year hiatus, ASAE president and CEO Michelle Mason tells Axios.
  • "Our members really want to meet in person. There will not be a virtual component, because we're really focused on relationships."

By the numbers: Nashville knows from previous experience that hosting the ASAE annual meeting helps book conventions.

  • A Nashville CVC spokesperson tells Axios that hosting the meeting in 2014 led to 41 association conventions, 201,205 hotel room bookings and $120.5 million in direct visitor spending.

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