Big Things Happen Here

Only New York and Los Angeles can best Dallas as top U.S. destination

Only New York and Los Angeles can best Dallas as top U.S. destination

Monty the French bulldog at the BIG sign
Everyone got in on the #DallasBIG social media campaign — even Monty. Photo by Matt Newman
Winspear Opera House in Dallas Arts District
A new report shows Dallas ranks as the No. 3 U.S tourist destination behind LA and New York. Photo by Tim Hursley
Conan O'Brien in Dallas
Dallas was in the national spotlight when Conan O'Brien came here during NCAA Final Four. Photo courtesy of TBS
Virgin America
Virgin America starts flying out of Love Field this fall. Courtesy photo
Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas
The report notes Dallas' new attractions, such as the Perot Museum. Photo by Mark Knight Photography
Monty the French bulldog at the BIG sign
Winspear Opera House in Dallas Arts District
Conan O'Brien in Dallas
Virgin America
Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas

Dallas always shows well on lists touting the best places to live or best cities for jobs. Turns out Dallas is also tops when it comes to tourism: Big D took the No. 3 spot on a report of the Top 50 U.S. Destinations 2014. Only Los Angeles and New York ranked higher.

For its study, New York-based Resonance Consultancy Ltd. was more interested in evaluations and experiences of destinations as opposed to traditional metrics such as number of visitors and the spending they generate. The tourism marketing firm started with locations with medium- or large-sized airports as defined by the FAA. Then they considered each destination from a business and leisure perspective, so they chose key criteria for each that influence demand in both categories.

For business, that included factors such as number of direct flights, number of Fortune 500 headquarters, number of hotels, size of convention center and exhibit space. On the leisure side, researchers looked at tourism products and experiences, paying particular attention to review sites Trip Advisor and Yelp. In their analysis of millions of traveler reviews, they considered only entries rated as very good or excellent.

Other factors taken into account were the number of major league sports teams and crime rate statistics. To get to the overall ranking for each destination, Resonance combined the business and leisure scores; leisure was weighted at 78.5 percent and business at 21.5 percent.

Dallas earned its No. 3 ranking for the Arts District, including Klyde Warren Park and nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science, as well as attractions like the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Resonance also noted the slew of free publicity we received when Conan O’Brien came to town during NCAA Final Four.

Resonance was also impressed with the new “Big Things Happen Here” slogan and subsequent #DallasBIG social media campaign, which “[shifted] the focus from things to moments, from items to experiences and people.” The firm also liked that everyone was doing it — from individuals to Southwest Airlines to the Dallas Stars to Conan.

Also noteworthy, according to Resonance, are Virgin America’s new gates at Love Field and the arrival of Emirates’ Airbus A380 at DFW Airport, which will begin flying direct to Dubai.

Dallas also gets props on the report’s secondary lists of the top 10 places to shop (No. 2), top 10 places to stay (No. 3), and top 10 places for culture and performing arts (No. 3). Other Texas cities on the overall list of top 50 U.S. destinations include Houston (No. 12), San Antonio (No. 21) and Austin (No. 23).

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