The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) outlined its strategy for success in the year ahead at its 2010-2011 Annual Meeting Thursday.

As the meetings marketplace became more competitive, the GHCVB began developing annual tradeshows from the ground up that will stimulate Houston's economy for years to come. In the past two years, five annual shows have been developed for the George R. Brown Convention Center and Reliant Park: Comicpalooza (7,500 attendees); Global Congress on Legal, Safety and Security Solutions in Travel (happening August 2011); South Texas Biker Jam (4,000 attendees) and the Image Show (6,000 attendees). Upcoming shows include Total Energy USA (October 2012).

The GHCVB is looking beyond the U.S. border for meetings and conventions and aligning its strategy with vertical markets where Houston has a competitive advantage-energy, scientific, medical, educational, religious, fraternal and sports-and working with Houston-area industry leaders to help target and secure this business.

One example of this collaboration was 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 John Kerreg from Conoco-Phillips with support from Gaylen Cobb, U.S. Committee Chair of the World Petroleum Council. While not immediately successful, the US Chapter of WPC has encouraged Houston to bid for 2017, and the collaborative effort led directly to the development of Total Energy USA.

Return on Investment

Domestic Meetings

  • 284 Definite Bookings
  • 523,000 Definite Room Nights
  • $597,000,000 Future Direct Expenditures

International Meetings & Tour Operators

  • 43,542 Contracted Room Nights
  • $44,516,000 Future Direct Expenditures

Film and Commercial Projects

  • 171 Projects
  • $9,817,600 Direct Impact

Gross Return: $651,333,600
Investment: $15,487,988

*For every dollar invested, in the GHCVB for FY'11, Houston/Harris County received $42 in return.

In addition:

  • $55 million in domestic & international publicity generated
  • Member investment was leveraged with $2,260,840 in cash and in-kind goods and services

Major achievements of fiscal year 2010-2011
The domestic convention sales team contracted 523,000 room nights, 91 percent of goal with a direct expenditure of more than $597 million dollars for future years. This total represents 284 bookings, a 44 percent increase over last year.

The sales team has been focused on markets that represent Houston's economic demographics: energy; engineering/science, medical, sports and SMERF (social, military, education, religious, fraternal). Significant bookings from those markets include:

Energy

  • 2011 World Shale Gas Conference: 620 room nights; 250 attendees
  • 2012 Total Energy USA: 7,000 attendees; 8,000 room nights

Scientific/Engineering

  • 2013 Turbomachinery: 6,226 room nights; 8,800 attendees
  • 2014 North American Prospect Expo: 8,902 room nights; 16,000 attendees
  • 2015 Offshore Technology Conference: 81,131 room nights; 73,000 attendees
  • 2017 Society of Exploration Geophysicists: 8,700 room nights; 7,000 attendees

Medical

  • 2011 Novartis: 2,000 room nights; 500 attendees
  • 2011 Clinical Robotic Surgical Association: 500 attendees; 500 room nights
  • 2015 Society for Surgical Oncology: 3,055 room nights; 1,200 attendees

Sports

  • 2012 and 2014 Junior Volleyball Association: 21,378 room nights; 16,000 attendees (per year)

SMERF (social, military, education, religious, fraternal)

  • 2012 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: 11,272 room nights; 30,000 attendees
  • 2015 Imperial Session of Shriner's International: 20,828 room nights; 8,000 attendees
  • 2016 Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks: 19,230 room nights; 10,000 attendees

More than 43,000 room nights from the international meetings and leisure marketplace were contracted-a 36 percent increase over last year and 109 percent of this year's goal.

Quite a few conventions held in Houston this year enjoyed record-breaking success:

  • The National Business Travel Association's convention was the third largest in their history (5,816 attendees).
  • Specialty Coffee Association of America's attendance increased by 14 percent over the previous year in San Diego (8,026 attendees).
  • Science Teachers Association of Texas experienced their largest attendance to date-a 19 percent increase from the previous year (7,136 attendees).
  • NACE International's Annual Conference saw a 21 percent increase in attendance over last year (7,000 attendees).
  • Mary Kay's convention topped their previous year's attendance by 30 percent (9,484 attendees).
  •  North American Prospect Expo set an all-time attendance record (15,700 attendees). 
  • The 2011 NCAA Final Four celebrated their largest attendance in game history (72,000 in stadium; 140,000+ weekend attendance).

Nearly 1.8 million people visited the Houston CVB's expansive web network this year, which includes VisitHouston.com, VisitaHoustonTexas.com, MyGayHouston.com, HoustonCulinaryTours.com and HoustonReunions.com

With more than 3,000 people on the waiting list and web visitation from 44 regions across the U.S., the Houston Culinary Tours are an undeniable hit with foodies. In 2011, the tour concept received three national Bulldog Reporter Awards and the Public Relations Society of America's prestigious Silver Anvil Award for Reputation/Brand Management.

EMMY and Golden Globe award winner Jim Parsons' was added to the My Houston campaign bringing the total to 15 celebrities touting why they love Houston. The campaign-which was conceived and built in-house-is now valued at more than 20 million dollars.

Publicity-wise, the GHCVB generated more than 1,350 domestic and international media placements with a value of more than $55 million. High profile placements include: Budget Travel, The New York Times, Food and Wine, USA Today, coverage on the state TV network of TV Chiapas, Mexico and Da-Ai TV, which is viewed by a half-billion people around the world.

Looking to the Future
The goal is to book 655,000 room nights during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, comprised of:

  • 575,000 Definite domestic meeting room nights
  • 40,000 International meeting room nights
  • 40,000 International leisure room nights

New technology releases are in the works including: a new design for VisitHouston.com, VisitaHoustonTexas.com and HoustonFilmComission.com; a mobile site; interactive My Houston gallery and online advertising opportunities.

GHCVB Leadership
Jim Mills, general manager of the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa, will continue as chair of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.