By Marc Boisclair

Small Cities: Downsizing

In an ideal world, every meetings destination would be blessed with Chicago's shopping, San Francisco's restaurants, the arts and culture of Washington, D.C. and the best theater Manhattan could offer-minus, of course, a few pesky nuisances (traffic and congestion, for example) that occasionally surface in such great cities. That said, smaller but deserving alternatives await, bringing to the table many benefits of bigger cities-accessibility, major hotels, dining, entertainment and recreation-in a format and setting often less expensive and unlikely to overwhelm either planners or attendees. "The infrastructure of smaller cities gives you a better opportunity to get to know the players," says Charles Sadler, executive director and CEO of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. "Our meeting also has a bigger impact on a city that size. It doesn't matter if the economy is good or bad when you book them; they still want your business when you get there." With that in mind, here's a sampling of some mid-tier destinations worth keeping in mind for future meetings...