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Leadership Update



We moved!

movingpix Partnership Tower opens  

Employees of Houston First Corporation and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau have unpacked their  yellow shipping crates and are quickly settling into their new home at Partnership Tower, the stunning 10-story office building at the north end of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

From the new building one can survey the downtown skyline, look down on Minute Maid Park and see portions of Discovery Green. It is attached to the GRB via sky bridge and adjoins a 1,900-space parking garage that will also serve the forthcoming Marriott Marquis Houston.

Monday, September 12, was moving day for  Houston First employees, who will be housed on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth floors.

Also sharing space in the new building is the Greater Houston Partnership. The business organization occupies the top two floors, which feature a large outdoor terrace designed to showcase Houston to meeting planners, business leaders and other dignitaries.

"Moving into our new building is an important step as we continue our efforts to re-imagine Avenida Houston as a walkable entertainment district," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First.

Future plans include adding the offices of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority and the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston.

“Being housed under the same roof as our  partner organizations gives us a stronger hand in promoting Houston to the world," Ullrich added.

The new address for Houston First and the GHCVB is 701 Avenida de las Americas, Houston, Texas 77010. The main phone number for the merged entities is 713.853.8100.

FACILITIES

Enterprise Development
Partnerships & Events

No update this month.

Visitors Center

The visitors center retail operation is in the midst of a renovation project that calls for shifting of merchandise throughout the store while work is in progress.  A new acoustical ceiling was installed in August while new wood tone flooring and new interior painting will be completed by the end of September.

Hotels

A demolition permit to raze Hilton Americas' Skyline room was obtained in August and demo is ongoing this month on the top floor of the building. Construction of an executive lounge is planned for the space.

Avenida Development

Five of the six restaurants in Avenida Houston have submitted their applications seeking construction permits.

The Houston Infusion program continues to complete art installations in the George R. Brown.  Installations have been completed by the following artists: Ben Woitena, Reginald C. Adams, Reginald C. Adams, Rhonda Radford-Adams and Amy Malkan, Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola, Lorena Morales, Page Piland and Gonzo247.

 

Cultural Facilities
Sales and Marketing

The following shows were booked since the last report:

SPA: Bale Folclorico da Bahia -- January 13, 2017, Jones Hall
SPA: Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson -- January 17, 2017, Jones Hall
SPA: Pilobolus Shadowland -- January 19-20, 2017, Jones Hall
SPA: Odd Squad Live -- January 21, 2017, Jones Hall
SPA: Stomp -- February 10-12, 2017, Jones Hall
SPA: Joey Alexander Trio -- February 17, 2017, Wortham Center
SPA: Third Coast Percussion -- March 4, 2017, Wortham Center

Tickets for the following shows have gone on sale since the last report:

Inprint: Jonathan Safran Foer  – September 19, 2016, Wortham Center
Annie Moses Band  – September 25, 2016, Wortham Center
Viva Latin America  – October 16, 2016, Wortham Center

 
Theater District Parking

No update this month.

Sunset Coffee Building

The website is expected to go live on October 3 and advertising is expected to begin on October 17.

Houston First Outdoors

Jones Plaza hosted three events in August with attendance totaling 3,700.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Miller hosted a total of 40,000 patrons at 16 performances during the month. Dance Theatre of Harlem, America’s foremost African American ballet company, returned to Miller on August 17 with its signature innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression.

Jones Hall

Jones Hall hosted one event in August, the Theater District Open House.  Attendance for the day totaled 7,546. 

jones-stage-refurbish

The rest of the month was set aside for annual maintenance such as painting and repairs.  We refinished the stage floor (above), painted the stage left dressing rooms and production office, painted/waxed the floors in the seating area, refinished the rehearsal room floor, as well as conducted annual inspections. 

Wortham Theater Center 

Wortham Center hosted eight events and a total of 11,276 patrons in August. Mayor Turner was in attendance for the Mayor’s Scholarship Jazz Brunch held in the Grand Foyer.

Houston First Corporation partnered with the University of Houston Downtown in a unique "downtown welcome week" event.  The multimedia program introduced 200 students to various student discounts, internship and volunteer opportunities in the Houston area.

The Theater District Open House was a grand success with over 6,500 guests visiting Wortham.  Tours of “back of house” non-public areas were offered and various entertainment from the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera and others entertained visitors throughout the day.  Guests had the opportunity to sit in their selected theater seats before purchasing tickets for the 2016-2017 season.

Talento Bilingue de Houston

The Talento Bilingue de Houston Expressarte Academy is accepting students for the upcoming season. A Educateatro Open House was held for teachers throughout the Houston area August 30.  The event was designed to promote new TBH educational events/plays offered this upcoming school year.

 

Convention Facilities
George R. Brown Convention Center

The George R. Brown hosted three major conventions during August for attendance of 10,630. These big shows were Summer NAPE, Knanaya Catholic Congress of North America, and Texas Nursery Landscape Association.

The number of non-convention events taking place at the GRB during the month was nine, attracting a total attendance of 17,561. A few of these events were AAU Junior Olympics, Team USA Rio Processing, Weddings & Quinceaneras and the Global UM Clergywomen Gathering.

Event and Guest Services conducted 13 site visits during the month in addition to managing each of the convention and non-convention events.

Parking continues to be an important business sector at the GRB. Convention District Parking utilized 51,415 parking spaces last month for events, shows and meetings:  Avenida North Garage opened early September; Avenida Central Garage: 11,317 cars; Avenida South Garage: 18,545; and Tundra Garage:  21,553.

Additionally, Summer NAPE and Nursery/Landscape Expo utilized the south transit center for event drop-off and pick-up. 

Construction Status

wharf-poles

Convention center staff was instrumental in the office move-in for other Houston First employees into Partnership Tower on September 12.

Additionally, progress is being made on the Wings Over Water fountain installation. The Wharf area lighting poles are installed, above.

 

SERVICES

Destination Sales

The Destination Sales team continues to pursue new meeting and event opportunities for our city. 

The citywide team generated over 126,500 possible room nights and secured 18,964 definite room nights for future years with conferences utilizing one of our major convention facilities. The non-citywide team secured 28,590 definite room nights while adding another 85,000 tentative room night opportunities.

The international team generated three opportunities with over 1,300 possible room nights for future years.

Additionally, members of the sales team attended American Society of Association Executives annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Connect Marketplace in Dallas and Experient E4 in Las Vegas to promote Houston as a premier convention and trade show destination to corporate meeting executives.

Destination Services

The Destination Services team conducted planning site visits for upcoming conventions including Rockwell Automation (11/2017); Society of Exploration Geophysicists (09/2017); Project Management Institute (11/2017); Generation of Youth for Christ (12/2016); National Athletic Trainers Association (06/2017), and  INFORMS (11/2017). The team also participated in a promotional attendance event at the  Progressive National Baptist Convention (08/2017) in New Orleans.

The Events Team assisted with six events: Experient e42016, Grant Writer Seminar, ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo, GHCVB Annual Meeting, MyUH/My Houston and Connect Marketplace.

The Employee Engagement group continues to promoting a healthy lifestyle, with two nutrition bootcamps and CPR training. Other events were two 401K transition meetings and BCBS/Kelsey Seybold transition Q&A session.

Tourism

In August, the Tourism Department experienced the following highlights:
•    At the US Travel/ESTO conference, our own international marketing manager Carla Fiorito was recognized with a Rising Star Award. This award is given to one professional new to the world of destination marketing who is already creating a positive change.  By implementing new marketing initiatives, Carla has been instrumental in the evolution and growth of the new HolaHouston.com Spanish website and of the Hola Houston social media. Carla is also our liaison with the operators and online travel agencies and manages online marketing promotions.
•    Our Canadian agency invited a small group of six journalists to a local baseball game in Toronto, on August 12 when the Houston Astros played the Toronto Blue Jays.  At this event we had the opportunity to promote Houston’s sports, including Super Bowl LI. In addition, Visit Houston has partnered with iTravel 2000 this summer to highlight travel opportunities for the Great City Getaways program.
•    Tourism hosted a delegation from the state of Puebla, Mexico, in Houston as part of the “Hola Houston” awareness campaign to exchange cultural and gastronomic interests and increase tourism for both cities. Earlier this year Hola Houston conducted promotional events in Mexico City, Puebla and San Miguel de Allende to showcase Houston’s rich cultural and culinary offerings. These direct-to-customer activations included a heavy social media component and targeted marketing to affluent frequent travelers.
•    Tourism participated in the SYTA (Student Youth Travel Association) conference. SYTA is focused on student travel and tour operators that plan their travel.  Houston’s presence provided increased visibility for this market. This year we serviced 34 appointments.  
 
Travel promotion and marketing activities for August included:
•   Working with online travel agents like TripAdvisor and Expedia to promote the Houston’s presence in USA, UK, China, Germany, and Mexico.  
•    In China the Houston consumer page lives on Brand USA Website. We are also in the beginning stages of our own Houston WeChat account. WeChat is one of the most popular social media apps in China.
•    For Mexico, Tourism launched and executed the first “Hola Houston” Facebook photo contest which allowed us to reach out to more than 2 million fans. Growth for the Hola Houston Facebook page has gone from less than 20,000 in January to near 60,000 in August.

Ongoing tourism activities benefiting the local hospitality industry included:
•    The 2017 Marketing Matching Grant Program has been launched with an increased grant total of $275,000. A new requirement this year is to include a hotel in each of the programs as a measuring tool for room nights.  To date, we’ve hosted two training seminars to support potential candidates and encourage more participation in the 2017 Matching Grant Program.
•    The Tourism team will be hosting other Texas CVBs for the TTIA Travel Summit next month. The annual Texas Travel Industry Summit gathers industry leaders for a two-day of training seminars and networking scheduled for October 10-12 at the GRB.  Texas Travel Industry Association is the umbrella organization and advocate for the state.  
•    The second annual Houston Tourism Summit was successfully held September 7 at the GRB. More details to come next month.

International media value for July: $200,331; International audience: 5,500,000.

Membership

New GHCVB members added in August include Successful Events, Quattro at the Four Seasons, Part & Parcel, Houston Dynamic Displays, The Ballroom at Bayou Place, iuali-Tours On Demand, Fittipaldi Exotic Driving, Scytl, Edgar’s Hermano Restaurant, Escape Hunt Houston, The Villas at The San Luis Resort, Berryhill Galleria, Berryhill Memorial City, Berryhill River Oaks, Berryhill The Woodlands, Berryhill West University and Airspace Creative.

Corporate Affairs

In August, HFC participated in the following community investment events: Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston luncheon on August 18 and the Ensemble Theatre Gala on August 20.

Public Affairs

No updates this month.  

Marketing and Communications

In August, Visit Houston's network of websites generated over 346,000 visits. Media value was $772,022 with an audience of nearly 200 million people nationally.

Several stories ran as a result of public relations pitches and activity including leisure pieces in Dossier (United Airlines), Garmentory, U.S. News & World Report, Hyper Allergic, CultureMap, Houston Chronicle here and here, Houston Business Journal, PaperCity, Meetings and Conventions, Smart Meetings, KHOU here and here, CW 39, Food 52, Chicago Now and Space.com.

Lastly, the team conducted six interviews promoting Houston including media with Texas Highways, Houston Press, KHOU, Fox26 and more.

Film Commission

In July, Houston Film Commission was engaged in 30 film and video projects encompassing 98 filming days. The economic impact for the month was $5,112,000.Television projects included 48 Hours, Car Hunter, The Eleven, Beach Front Bargain Hunters, Texas Vet, The Voice, Where Are They Now? and DIY: Home Improvements. Commercial filming projects included Compass Bank, Ford Truck, Danon Foods, HEB, Fuddrucker’s and Castrol. 

In August, HFC was engaged in 15 film and video projects encompassing 85 filming days. The economic impact for the month was $2,280,000. We were involved in the feature film Patriot Act, the television shows Tiny Nation, True Crime and Cooper's Treasure, and commercials for Samsung, Budweiser and Angel Grear.

Regional Product Development

No update this month.
 

Finance & Administration

Community Outreach activities for August included National Hispanic Professional Organization Membership Meeting, Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum and National Association of Minority Contractors.

Technical Outreach activities for August included  Eco Friendly Products, Fortress, SSBM Consulting, G. Wade Pipe Supply, Gennoa French Enterprises, Rio Realty, GCI Solutions, Milton Brown Engineers and Consultants, MUI Services, BVI Supplier, Quality Hospitality Cleaning, Itz All Good, Brite Construction, Ken’s Cowboy Beef Jerky, Brivic Media and Ray MEP Contractors.

For the full financial management and accountability report for August, click here.

Information Technology

IT successfully completed the Windows 10 upgrade and the move of the server room  to Partnership Tower.  IT worked with several vendors to ensure that all technology services were in place and running properly for the September 9 move to Partnership Tower.
 
IT continues to partner with the Finance Department on key  Dynamics  AX issues.  An Ungerboeck upgrade review and IT internal training is planned for late September. Database monitoring tools and softwares are being reviewed to improve diagnostics and reporting of  database issues.

 

 

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