August 30, 2014
digitalNow and Nashville: Leading in the digital age

By Hugh K. Lee


Association TRENDS

I’m often asked, “Why did you choose Nashville for digitalNow?”

Perhaps it’s because of the diversity of music in “Music City.” Or its brand new world-class convention and meetings campus anchored by the new Music City Center, Omni Nashville and Country Music Hall of Fame. Or, it could be because of the long history of hosting and growing some of the association community’s biggest events as manifested in a 13 percent growth in future convention bookings over the last year.

While all those facts are true and important, we chose Nashville, Tenn., because of what the city represents.

Nashville is everything America can and should be, an example of what Richard Florida in his book Cities and the Creative Class had in mind when he said, “They turn that energy into technical and artistic innovations, new forms of commerce and new industries, and evolving paradigms of community and civilization.”

Nashville boasts a dynamic Entrepreneur Center, and the efforts are clearly effective as 23 percent of Nashville’s workforce is self-employed vs. the 18 percent national average. The city is the place to integrate into your meetings and events as well as demonstrate leadership in the new economy.

It represents the integration of creativity, value, and the collaboration between for-profit, government, education and nonprofit organizations. This collaborative environment in Music City hasn’t happened overnight. Nashville CVB president Butch Spyridon has lead the charge for citywide collaboration for 22 years, and his tenure is a testament to Nashville’s belief in the tourism industry.

“From the leadership in the mayor’s office and the support of a corporations like HCA, to the frontline employees of businesses throughout the city, people in Nashville understand the value of our industry,” Spyridon said. “This confirmation of the hospitality industry leads to cooperation and it allows us to get things done to benefit both our clients and our community.”

Nashville's convention campus is every bit a part of the everyday downtown life. There are many world-class restaurants (Nashville was named the “coolest, tastiest city in the South” by Bon Appetit), an emerging downtown living space, and new creative meet-up venues like Pinewood Social, where early breakfast to late-night dining bookend high-end cocktails, vintage bowling and outdoor bocce ball. The city shows it is providing value and a creative environment for both its citizens and convention visitors.

As the chosen host city for digitalNow, Nashville exemplifies growth and improving value that is combined with a legacy of southern hospitality, customer service and infrastructure. (Did you know that Nashville is one of the nine finalists in the country to be a Google Fiber City?) Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and the New York Times all selected Music City as a “must see” world destination in 2014. Depending on the source, Nashville is ranked in the top 20 of cities for major association meetings. 

So when asked, “Why Nashville?” I say, just as digitalNow is about leading associations in the digital age, Nashville is defining the great American city, for the benefit of conventions, professionals, companies and every citizen.

Lee is president of Fusion Productions and a founder of digitalNow.

Association TRENDS