As the undisputed center of country music, it's called an entertainment capital of the world, but it's also home to the foremost producer of Bibles, earning it the nickname the "Buckle of the Bible Belt." And, in fact, the Southern Baptists' convention is based in the city.
Its geographic location also puts it on many different play lists, being that it's convenient for Eastern, Midwestern and Southern convention rotation schedules. And as the icing on the cake, it's within driving distance of half the nation's population.
Nashville wears a number of different hats, from country cowboy to 'jazzer' pork pie, but in the end, it's the music that sets the stage as a meetings draw.
"Truly the first reason they look in our direction is because we are 'Music City,'" says Adrienne Siemers, associate director of sales for the Nashville CVB. "All of the record labels are here, and it's not just country, but all genres of music."
Nashville's stature as a capital of the entertainment industry makes music take center stage when holding a meeting there, from renting major facilities such as the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to full-fledged honky-tonks like the Wildhorse Saloon down to more-intimate venues such as the renowned Bluebird Cafe, where groups of up to 50 can enjoy the experience of seeing four singer-songwriters sit on a stage in the round, facing each other as they discuss and perform their own material.
For a brassier to-do, groups can rent out one of the many famed downtown honky-tonks that advertise their presence in glorious rays of neon.
"Lots of groups will buy-out honky-tonks, such as the Wildhorse Saloon [with a capacity for 2,000], and tent off between the Ryman and those bars," Siemers says, adding that the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which was built in the early 2000s and is in the process of expanding its exhibit space, is also a fantastic venue for buyouts. The Country Hall will also connect to a major new Omni hotel that is scheduled to open next year.
On the hotel scene, the Omni will certainly add to the allure of the busy downtown area, but groups that want an upscale-boutique experience should check out the Hutton Hotel, which is located in the more secluded Vanderbilt area, a few miles from the entertainment mecca of downtown.
"The hotels up in that area offer a boutique experience, and an upscale experience, and a lot of groups love it because it's right next door to the Vanderbilt University campus," Siemers says. "For groups who don't want to worry about folks heading off to the honky-tonks, they have a captive audience, but it's only a quick $5 cab ride to downtown for live music."
On the massive end of the accommodations scale, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel—which was put out of commission for six months following the massive floods that deluged the city in 2010—has been almost entirely "re-concepted," having revamped its restaurants and 2,841 guest rooms. Located about 15 minutes from downtown, the Gaylord boasts the enviable attribute of being located next door to the hallowed shrine of country music, the Grand Ole Opry.
In yet another example of Nashville constantly changing its tune, the destination has enjoyed a fine-dining renaissance.
"We've had several amazing James Beard Award-winners move to the city and open up restaurants," Siemers says, "and Bon Appetit named us one the 'Coolest, Tastiest City in the South.'
"The music industry influence from the L.A. and New York scenes has really weighed in on our dining scene," she adds. "You'll still find really great fried chicken, but also the influence of other major metropolitan areas in terms of dining. It's really raised the bar in the city."
Other inviting dining and entertainment districts include The Gulch, which also offers a great boutique shopping experience, as well as the 12th South district, with more-eclectic eateries and a popular shopping scene.
Perhaps the biggest change on the Nashville meetings scene will be the new Nashville Music City Center convention facility, which will join the existing Nashville Convention Center and offer 352,000 gross square feet of meeting space located in the heart of the Broadway nightlife area downtown.
But even with all of the new offerings and many different faces of Nashville, the city still offers one reliable attribute.
"One thing that remains constant is our true sense of Southern hospitality," Siemers says, noting that Travel + Leisure magazine has named Nashville "America's Most Friendly City" for a number of years. "It still rings true throughout our hospitality industry, and we're very proud of that."