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Second-tier cities? No thanks, we’re ‘intellectual capitals’

Research shows smaller cities are using their size and expertise to their advantage

PIC: Beakerhead Festival, Calgary. Photo credit Skift.

Medium sized cities are shaking off the ‘second-tier’ tag by positioning themselves as knowledge or innovation hubs in the battle to win international meetings business, a new report claims.

From Belfast to Brisbane, smaller cities are using their size to their advantage, according to The Rise of Midsize Cities in the Meetings Industry, commissioned by trade show owner IMEX Group.

The ease with which they can assemble local talent and expertise to support bids for meetings is cited as a crucial factor in their development, as is their ability to demonstrate legacy.

The research, developed by business intelligence company Skift, shows that cities such as Cleveland or The Hague are using their intellectual capital to take on their larger rivals.

But there are other factors that are supporting their rise.

Smaller cities – defined in this study as having fewer than one million inhabitants - tend to be cheaper than capital or major cities and have a novelty value better-known cities lack.

Greg Oates, executive editor, SkiftX said: "The big shift is that mid-size cities are leveraging their size as an advantage now, versus something they need to overcome. That's based on the widespread improvements in their downtown cores, the exponential rise of industry sector expertise beyond the big gateway cities, and the demand for more affordable, diverse and unique destinations."

IMEX chief executive, Carina Bauer, added: "This is an important trend in the meetings and events market, and one we touched on at IMEX America last year. This is not to suggest that the big, established cities are lacking — they’re clearly not. The big cities of the world all have transport links, infrastructure, support services, and hotel stock that others simply can’t compete with. Instead, this report reveals why and how smaller cities have started to find new ways to gain traction, add value to their communities, and attract business. They’re frequently working with city leaders and entrepreneurs in very innovative ways, and collaborating with more intention to build a positive legacy. There are important lessons here for every part of the supply chain."

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