by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 8, 2012

Cvent's Bharet MalhotraA few weeks ago, e-meeting technology provider Cvent released its first-ever ranking of the Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the United States. While the criteria included the number of electronic requests for proposal each hotel received and the group business rewarded, those were just two in a lengthy set of variables that went into analyzing the more than 100,000 meetings booked on the Cvent Supplier Network in 2011 — bookings that represented some $4 billion in business for hotels.

"Consistency was one of the things we looked at," says Bharet Malhotra, vice president of sales for Cvent. "Not just how fast hotels responded to RFPs, but how well thought-out their responses were, and their willingness to work with meeting planners on dates. It couldn't be based solely on the amount of business booked, because one property could win two big RFPS, and that's not enough reason to be considered. And we definitely did not want to limit our ranking to those hotels who advertise with us. We looked at every hotel and how they matched up across the entire RFP process."

The Excel spreadsheet of those that made the list revealed some interesting data. Not only did an independent property, the Peabody Orlando, snag the number-one spot, nine other independents also made the list. In an age of hotel brand dominance, that's quite a compelling stat. When it came to stacking the big brands against each other, Marriott trumped its competitors by garnering 20 spots, followed by Starwood with 17, Hilton with 14 and Hyatt with 13. In one important way, though, Hyatt is the big winner in the top 100. Its competitors' listings represent a compiled score of hotels across their entire company portfolio. For example, Starwood's numbers include Westin and Sheraton properties, while Marriott's are a combination of JW Marriotts, Renaissance and Marriotts. Hyatt's 13 spots on the roster are all Hyatts.

The Cvent top-100 list also revealed some very interesting destination data. For starters, the top-tier cities did not have a clean sweep. While Orlando and Las Vegas predictably had the most hotels on the list, with 15 and 14, respectively, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans had just five each. The biggest surprise was New York City, with only one hotel cited — the New York Marriott Marquis — which came in at 78. Baltimore and Denver had two each, all placing much higher up in the rankings. "What I found really exciting was some of the markets meeting business is going to, like Austin and Charlotte," notes Malhotra. As for his take on why independent properties scored so well, "Independents don't have the marketing platforms at their disposal that the big brands do, so they go above and beyond hosting planners at their properties on site inspection trips and really making that personal connection," he says. "Obviously, it's working."

For those hotels that didn't make the list, better luck next year. Malhotra says his phone has not stopped ringing, and his e-mail has been studded with queries from hotel executives who want to know why their properties didn't make the cut. "It's like telling someone their child didn't win a spot on the team," says Malhotra. "You feel bad for them, but those are the results."

For the complete list of Cvent's Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the U.S., click here.