The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB), fiscally conservative during the strong years, is poised for growth as recovery continues and as reported on the state of the bureau in the annual meeting.
Annise D. Parker, Houston mayor, addressed the meeting speaking about a letter received from the executive director of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, a group that held their June convention in Houston, that praised the efforts of the GHCVB.
“This was a testament to the GHCVB’s talent and dedication,” said Parker. “I love receiving letters like this.”
The mayor then touched on the topic of Houston’s hospitality, stressing that Houstonians remain the key marketing tool for the city.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge convention or a family reunion,” said Parker. “We want to welcome you. We have some of the friendliest people in the world. Also, the best sales people are the people that live and work here. We are all ambassadors and I am Houston’s biggest cheerleader.”
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett addressed the meeting’s audience, expressing his thoughts in a pre-recorded video.
“All of us in local government understand how important the work of the bureau is in bringing tourists, conventions and business meetings to our community,” said Emmett. “What’s really important to focus on, and what the bureau does such a great job of, is the coordination between the City of Houston, Harris County and the surrounding area, because we’re all in this together.”
Major achievements of fiscal year 2009-2010
The convention sales department booked 516,000 room nights for domestic conventions, tradeshows and group meetings for future years, which was 86 percent of the goal, representing more than $630 million in direct expenditures in Houston for future years.
The sales team has been focused on markets that represent Houston’s economic demographics; energy; engineering and science, and medical.
Significant bookings from those markets include
• Microsoft, 2012; 7,500 attendees, 18,000 room nights
• Rockwell Automation, 2014; 7,000 attendees, 16,000 room nights
• American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 2014, 2017; 5,000 attendees, 8,400 room nights
• Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2015; 9,000 attendees, 25,000 room nights
• Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching, 2015, 2018; 6,500 attendees, 4,705 room nights
• American Epilepsy Society, 2016; 3,000 attendees, 7,400 room nights
• Society of Thoracic Surgeons, 2017; 2,100 attendees, 7,800 room nights
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2018; 40,000 attendees, 54,000 room nights
The GHCVB continues to focus on key markets with large numbers of meeting planners and associations such as Washington, DC, Chicago and New York.
In addition, the GHCVB launched Houston’s first-ever multi-media campaigns in Washington, DC and Chicago, utilizing radio, TV, print and direct mail, as well as events in both markets.
A major goal for 2009-2010 was to expand Houston’s footprint in the international meetings market. To date, the GHCVB has secured 28,000 room nights for international meetings and leisure with a direct impact of more than $34 million.
A key international meetings initiative is Houston’s bid to host the World Petroleum Congress in 2014. Leaders from 20 energy companies were asked to participate in a local bid committee chaired by Conoco-Phillips. If Houston wins the bid, 41,000 hotel room nights will be filled in October 2014.
A new agenda of the GHCVB is to develop annual tradeshows, from conception to implementation.
Comicpalooza is one example, a multi-format pop culture convention featuring comics, science fiction, fantasy, gaming, music, and film.
The inaugural event took place in March at the George R. Brown Convention Center and featured celebrities, authors, artists, vendors, and manufacturers. Subsequently, significant growth is expected for year two.
Similar events, such as Comic-Con, started a few years ago in a hotel ballroom, but now attract more than 60,000 people.
As part of this new initiative, two additional annual tradeshows will take place; the South Texas Biker Jam and Expo, and The Global Congress on Legal Safety and Security Solutions in Travel.