Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Greater Nashville Hospitality Association
propelling Music City to its position as a top global destination
Laying the groundwork to ensure Nashville remains a tourist hotspot, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Greater Nashville Hospitality Association set the local tourist industry standards
For each of the past 11 years, Music City has been named a top global destination by travel outlets. Those accolades include Best Big U.S. City (No. 4) Reader’s Choice Awards by Conde Nast Traveler (October 2022), Best Places to Travel by Travel & Leisure (June 2022), and No. 1 in the list of Where to Travel in June: Five of the Best Destinations in the World by National Geographic (May 2022).
Nashville’s meteoric success as the world’s best music destination has opened a universe of additional reasons why visitors love the city: authentic, interesting neighborhoods; a preeminent profile in the sports world with three professional teams in the NFL (Tennessee Titans), NHL (Nashville Predators) and MLS (Nashville SC), along with special sporting events from the 2019 NFL Draft to the Music City Grand Prix; fashion, makers and retail; more and better restaurants, including Food & Wine’s 2022 Restaurant of the Year, Locust; and the hottest hotel openings in the country.
While many destinations are still in pandemic recovery mode, Nashville has been full steam ahead with record numbers of hotel rooms sold this past summer and record-breaking room demand and hotel tax collections in Fiscal Year 2022.
Driving this success is the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC), which brands, markets, and sells the city to visitors and conventions, along with the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association (GHNA), which promotes the positive impact of the hospitality industry on the local economy and advocates for the industry on the state and local level. The NCVC has 1,000-plus members from all sectors of Middle Tennessee’s hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars, attractions, and transportation companies. GNHA’s membership is 300-strong, comprised mainly of hotels and restaurants.
“The secret to our success is a collaboration with our industry partners,” said Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “We are proud of our record-breaking performance and momentum as a top global destination, and we will always keep an eye on managing our growth and staying true to our Music City brand.”
“It is an honor to represent the vibrant and successful hospitality industry in Greater Nashville,” said Leesa LeClaire, President and CEO of the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association. “Our industry is a vital part of the entire state and local economy. We have a wonderful array of job opportunities from entry-level to executive and beyond. From investing to visiting, Greater Nashville has something for everyone.”
October 2022 was a record month for the city in the number of hotel room nights sold, for the first time exceeding 900,000 which is the most room nights ever sold for a single month in Nashville. It not only reflects the pandemic recovery for the city but also the resilience of the city’s tourism industry.
Further proof of recovery is the record number of hotel room nights sold in FY22, nearly 9 million, up 5% from the previous record year in FY19. As well, hotel tax collections in FY22 were a record $112 million, nearly 30% higher than the previous record year in FY19.
But while the city is selling more hotel room nights than ever before, there are more rooms to sell. Investment in Nashville has been strong, and the city’s hotel room supply has grown at an equally impressive rate. More than 6,500 new hotel rooms have opened since June 2019, and almost 4,000 are currently under construction.
Nashville is forecast to have more than 40,100 hotel rooms by 2024. In fact, Nashville is the second-fastest growing market in the nation for hotel construction as a share of the inventory, just behind New York City.
With the guidance of the NCVC and the partnership of GNHA, the hospitality industry has the plan to absorb this new supply and will continue to refine strategies to create additional demand for the city.
Major events with a national network, cable, and streaming exposure will continue to bring visitors to the town and keep Nashville top of mind to potential visitors watching around the world. Over a year’s time, the city hosts 10 major events receiving national media attention, including Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4; SRX Racing Series; Music City Grand Prix; CMA Summer Jam; Tennessee Titans Monday Night Football; CMA Awards Show; CMA Country Christmas; Music City Bowl; New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash; and SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament this March 2023.
Visitors also experience new attractions and unique experiences year-round, including the National Museum of African American Music, which opened in 2020, as well as elevated dining that has turned the city into a foodie destination with chef-driving restaurants from the likes of Food Network’s Maneet Chauhan and James Beard-winner Sean Brock.
A new supply of upscale hotel properties is also adding to the Nashville experience for visitors looking for an elevated experience with recent openings of 1 Hotel, Conrad, and Four Seasons and a ground-breaking for the Ritz Carlton planned for Q4 2022.
Conventions have lagged leisure visitors in bouncing back, and the NCVC Sales Team continues to build back business, promoting both Nashville’s compact downtown campus that includes the 2.1 million square foot Music City Center, along with the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, located northeast of downtown. The Sales Team consistently has a strong presence at key national and regional trade shows, including Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Convening Leaders; American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting; International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Annual Meeting; and IMEX America.
Group meetings continue to express strong interest in Nashville as a meeting destination with lead production up 119% over FY 21, although the conversion rate is about 25%, slightly below the FY19 rate and the average size of groups has decreased by 16%. However, Nashville remains a strong convention destination with recognition from the meetings industry, including CVB of the Year (Secondary Market) by Conference Direct; No. 5 destination booked by Maritz clients for face-to-face meetings; No. 5 destination by HelmsBriscoe in definite booked business; and No. 7 meetings destination by CVENT.
Nashville International Airport is the number one airport for mid-sized cities in the United States, servicing 97 daily nonstop destinations. A $2 billion renovation has transformed it into one of the most state-of-the-art airports in the country. Passengers are coming through the airport in record numbers, and the property hosted the largest number of passengers in a single month in June 2022 at 1.83 million, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 9.3%.
The British Airways’ nonstop flight between Nashville and London resumed in May 2022 to record sales, demonstrating Nashville’s appeal to international visitors. The airport’s renovations include designs for future international flights, a major growth area for the city’s hospitality industry.
As leaders in the city, the NCVC and GNHA will continue to promote Music City and create important revenue for local businesses, the city, and the state. In 2021, direct visitor spending in Nashville was $7.4 billion, nearly one-third of all visitor spending in Tennessee. The Nashville MSA has a total of 126,000 leisure and hospitality employees, representing 11% of employment in the Nashville MSA.
Unlike other major destinations, Nashville does not have typical demand generators, such as beaches, mountains, gaming, or a theme park. The Music City brand continues to be Nashville’s calling card with country music and multiple other music genres – from rock to bluegrass to gospel to pop – thriving in Nashville.
The NCVC and GNHA will continue Nashville’s tourism momentum by staying true to the values that make Music City great: creativity, authenticity, and friendliness, with Nashville named a Friendliest City in the United State in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2021 Reader’s Choice Awards.
AT A GLANCE
Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC)
WHAT: Non-public corporation that brands, sells and markets Nashville as Music City to the world as a premier entertainment destination for travelers who seek authentic and unique leisure and convention experiences.
WHERE: Nashville, TN
Greater Nashville Hospitality Association (GNHA)
WHAT: Advocacy arm of Nashville’s hospitality industry, providing a collective voice about the positive impact that travel and tourism have on the community and economy by communicating with and educating local officials and state legislators on laws and policies related to the industry.
WHERE: Nashville, TN