More than a third of the Top 25 are U.S. Cities: What are the key factors that determine where one chooses a city to live in and a city to visit? Following a major research and analytical work in 2018 that focused on the United States and its best cities, the Resonance Consultancy hopes it has answered these questions through a just released a work that ranks the world’s top cities.
Of particular not to travel and tourism leaders is the report’s assertion that, today, “the experiential quality of a place is increasingly determining where talent, capital and tourism flow.” But how does one go about measuring the quality of one place versus another?
In 2018, the New York City-based Resonance Consultancy partnered with global research firm Ipsos to conduct a survey of the U.S. population to determine the factors people consider most important in choosing a city to live in and choosing a city to visit. The group also conducted a survey of business decision makers to determine the factors they considered important in choosing a city in which to do business or invest. In addition, it conducted an analysis to determine which of these perception-shaping factors survey respondents told us were important showed a positive correlation with factors such as GDP, employment, company formation and visitor arrivals.
The 2020 World’s Best Cities ranks the world’s cities (principal cities of metropolitan areas with populations of more than one million) by using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 22 areas grouped into six core categories. Principal cities are defined as the largest city in each metropolitan statistical area.
The Six Core Categories:
Place—The most layered category quantifies a city’s physical sense of place. To score a city within our Place category, we evaluate the perceived quality of its natural and built environments. From how often the sun shines to the safety of the streets, several readily measurable, oft-cited factors influence our perceptions.
Weather: Average number of sunny days (National Climatic Data Center, Weatherbase)
Safety: Homicide rate (Office for National Statistics, Office for Regional Statistics, Office on Drugs and Crime, Eurostat)
Neighborhoods & Landmarks: Number of quality neighborhoods and landmarks recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Outdoors Number of quality parks and outdoor activities recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Product—This is a ranking of the “hardware” of a city—often the most difficult metric for cities to get right. Our product category studies a city’s key institutions, attractions and infrastructure. A city’s infrastructure and institutions shape its identity via the quantity, quality and reputation of these “products.” Expensive and difficult to develop and maintain, exceptional, recognizable products are often found only in large, cosmopolitan cities.
Airport Connectivity: Number of direct destinations served by the city’s airports (Google Flights)
Attractions: Number of quality attractions recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Museums: Number of quality museums and arts institutions recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
University: Ranking of the top local university (U.S. News & World Report, Best Global Universities)
Convention Center: Size of the largest convention center (Official Convention Center Website).
People—The more diverse a city’s population, the more it produces global ideas… on a local scale. Human capital is often a city’s most valuable resource. To evaluate the relative strength of human capital from one city to the next, one considers the diversity of the city’s population—something of proven importance when it comes to attracting talent.
Diversity: Percentage of foreign-born residents (UK Office for National Statistics, Office for Regional Statistics, Eurostat, The World Bank–United Nations Population Division)
Educational Attainment Percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher (Office for National Statistics, Office for Regional Statistics, Eurostat, The World Bank – UNESCO Institute for Statistics).
Prosperity—A well-paid, economically secure citizenry facilitates stewardship and innovation. In general, beliefs about the wealth and prosperity of a city are shaped by statistics such as the income of citizens, the standard of living and by the presence or absence of large, recognizable corporations—despite the fact that start-ups and innovation increasingly drive a city’s development and economic growth.
Global 500: Number of Global 500 corporate headquarters (Fortune.com)
GDP per capita: GDP per capita (in U.S. dollars), (McKinsey Urban World)
Programming—This category measures the experiential pillars of a great visit: food, shows, shopping and nightlife. If our Product category is the “hardware” of cities and destinations, the mosaic of cultural programming and lifestyle experiences they offer is the “software” that makes them run—including the subcategories of Shopping, Culture, Dining and Nightlife. While such programming initiatives are individually insignificant, their sum fosters a community’s connection to place.
Culture: Number of quality performing arts and cultural experiences recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Nightlife: Number of quality nightlife experiences recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Dining: Number of quality restaurants and culinary experiences recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Shopping: Number of quality shopping experiences recommended by locals and visitors (TripAdvisor.com)
Promotion— A city’s ability to tell its story (and help others do the same) depends on how it incentivizes and rewards sharing of experiences by locals and visitors. The number and frequency of media coverage, online articles, references and place-based recommendations influence our perception of cities, whether the news is good or bad. Today, residents, businesses and visitors promote a city to the world more than city marketers or chambers of commerce. Resonance ranks a city’s Promotion performance based on the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online about that city.
Facebook Check-ins: Number of Facebook check-ins (Facebook.com)
Google Searches: Number of Google search results (Google.com)
TripAdvisor Reviews: Number of TripAdvisor reviews (TripAdvisor.com)
Instagram Hashtags: Most Instagrammed city (Instagram.com)
Google Trends: Popularity on Google Trends in the past 12 months (Google.com)