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Wednesday, September 17, 2014         

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Los Angeles loses convention appeal

By McClatchy News Services

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Los Angeles has made huge strides in the past few years to improve its appeal to convention and event organizers.

New hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and concert venues have sprung up around the Los Angeles Convention Center, a neighborhood that locals had previously described as a frightening dead zone at night.

Still, Los Angeles has dropped two spots to number 19 in a new ranking of the nation's most popular destinations for conventions and business gatherings. The city now ranks below Houston, Boston and even Scottsdale, Ariz.

The drop over the past 12 months could be partly due to the traffic gridlock caused by construction at Los Angeles International Airport, which may be keeping meeting organizers away, said Kevin Fliess, the vice president for product marketing at Cvent, one of the nation's largest convention management and technology companies. Cvent produced the annual ranking of destinations.

"I don't think that investment has paid off yet," he said of the renovation efforts at LAX.

Los Angeles officials are not worried about the ranking.

"The fact of the matter is that through 2028, Los Angeles has 164 conventions on the books with an economic impact of about $2.5 billion," said Darren Green, senior vice president of sales for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. "Los Angeles is very much in the convention business."

The ranking is based on bookings and requests for bookings for meeting space and hotel rooms, plus online queries for about 5,000 cities across the nation, Fliess said.

But there is good news for Southern California.

For the second straight year, San Diego remained the fifth most popular meeting destination in the nation, while Anaheim jumped up seven spots to 25th, and Long Beach shot up four positions to the 44th spot, according to the Cvent ranking.

"So in totality, the Los Angeles area is looking great," Fliess said.

Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times






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