The chances of it raining on your parade in Phoenix are pretty slim, which makes it one of the most reliable places to plan meetings and incentives. With an average yearly temperature of 72 degrees and sunshine during 86 percent of daylight hours (which translates to more than 300 sunny days each year), it's a climate that makes everyone smile.

As the nation's sixth largest city, outranked only by New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia, Phoenix is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities. It has a population of over a million people, with more than 2.5 million living in the Phoenix metro area. A decided enrichment is the city's ethnic diversity, with about one in four residents from an ethnic minority. A number of cultural groups, including the Museo Chicano, help preserve and protect the area's cultural history.

Considering that more than 15 dozen golf courses are playable year- round and that Phoenix consistently ranks among the nation's top cities in the number of Five Diamond/Five Star resorts, it's not difficult to understand why more than 12 million people visited Phoenix last year.

Kelly Fox, director of meetings and exhibits for the American Health Information Management Association, Chicago, brought 5,000 attendees to Phoenix in October for the association's annual convention.

The association, which is the representative body for medical records departments within hospitals with long-term care facilities, used a number of downtown hotels, including Crowne Plaza and Hilton Suites. "We used the convention center for exhibits, general sessions, and break-outs," she says.

Fox says that the association held an event at Arizona Center, the multifaceted retail, restaurant, and business complex near the convention center, and used the outdoor terrace at the convention center for a large reception.

Attendees were able to experience many things that Phoenix is known for, including jeep tours, a night at the dog races, a trip north to Sedona and red rock country, and an excursion to the Grand Canyon.