We contacted executives from the companies that make up the CMI 25—the annual list published by Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine of the largest meeting and incentive companies focused on the North American corporate market—and asked them what destinations outside the U.S. are on their radar screens in three categories:

  • the best value
  • the hottest interest
  • the easiest logistics

The destinations cited most often—but not always in the same category—were London, Mexico, and Panama.

Ping He, director, global sourcing and partner relations, for Experient, offered some overall perspective along with her specific choices. “The corporate market’s direction is leaning toward big, emerging markets such as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa),” she said. “The association market still goes to Europe—Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, and Berlin are in highest demand for us—with some going to Asia, specifically Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.”

Here are some of the individual picks:
Best Value: Lisbon
Hottest: Berlin (both trendy and historic—something for everybody)
Easiest: Frankfurt
Alexandra Murphy, Director, Meeting Expectations

Best Value: Mexico
Hottest: Italy, London
Easiest: Switzerland, London, Hong Kong
Bruce Schiemo, Division VP, BI Worldwide

Best Value: Mexico, Caribbean cruises
Hottest: Seychelles, New Zealand, Panama
Easiest: London, Paris, Cancun (based on access and lift)
Caren R. Bigelow, Director, USMotivation

Best Value: Argentina
Hottest: Shanghai and Beijing
Easiest: Panama
Doug Hunt, VP, McVeigh Associates, Ltd.

Best Value: Panama
Hottest: Latin and Central America
Easiest: Central America (minimal time difference), Puerto Rico
Frank Goldstin, CMO, Bishop-McCann

Best Value: Panama
Hottest: Costa Rica, Mexico (Cabo, Cancun/Riviera Maya)
Easiest: Paris, Frankfurt
Janet Traphagen, EVP, Creative Group Inc.

Best Value: Prague, Beijing, Shanghai (excluding airfare)
Hottest: Istanbul (Dubai draws interest, but not bookings)
Easiest: Paris, Amsterdam
Jean Neider, CMP, President & CEO, M&I

Best Value: Warsaw, Budapest, and Mexico (high-end all-inclusive properties offer a great experience at reduced cost)
Hottest: London (hold off until after the 2012 Summer Olympics to get more value), Istanbul
Easiest: London (great airlift, no language barrier), Cancun (value plus great airlift)
Julie Benson, Director, Aimia

Best Value: Mexico
Hottest: Panama (uses U.S. currency); Italy (Amalfi Coast for repeat visitors)
Easiest: London (with three major airports serving major U.S. cities, London offers more economical airfare than other international destinations)
Kathy Nugent Delidow, VP, Excellence In Motivation Inc.

Best Value: Dominican Republic, Mexico (because of airfare)
Hottest: Italy, Spain
Easiest: Ireland, Hong Kong, and Germany
Laura McAllister, Director, Maritz

Best Value: Lisbon
Hottest: Istanbul, London
Easiest: London (especially with the new Virgin Atlantic flight from San Francisco)
Matt Gillam, Rich Calcaterra, EEG Inc.

Best Value: Cancun/Riviera Maya, Mexico
Hottest: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Easiest: London
Mike Farmer, VP, Meridian Enterprises Corp.

Best Value: Berlin, Istanbul, Bangkok
Hottest: London (for Olympics), Budapest
Easiest: Singapore (sophisticated and friendly meeting infrastructure)
Ping He, CMP, Director, Experient

Best Value: Mexico, Spain, Portugal
Hottest: Costa Rica
Easiest: Mexico, Ireland, Costa Rica
Scott A. Dillion, president, SDI Meetings and Incentives