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About Houston First

Houston First Corporation (HFC) is the official destination marketing organization for the city of Houston.   

A local government corporation, Houston First also owns the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel, manages the George R. Brown Convention Center as well as 10 city-owned properties, underground and surface parking for nearly 10,000 vehicles and developed the Avenida Houston entertainment and convention district.   
 
HFC’s vision and efforts enrich the lives of Houstonians in a number of ways, beginning with promoting the region as a destination for tourism and convention business. The organization also works to attract film production to the area and operates theaters where world-class performances take center stage, all while managing outdoor spaces where festivals and other activities thrive.

OPERATIONS

Brands
Administration
Facility Operations

Branding

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Administration

  • Finance & Administration
  • Sales
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Public Policy
  • General Counsel
  • Facility Operations
  • Partnerships and Event Development
  • Tourism
  • Membership

Facility Operations

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ASSET MANAGEMENT:

Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel.  

It operates: George R. Brown Convention CenterAvenida HoustonJones Hall for the Performing Arts (home to the Houston Symphony and Society for the Performing Arts), Wortham Theater Center (home to the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera), Talento Bilingue de HoustonMiller Outdoor TheatreHouston First Outdoors (which includes Jones Plaza and other smaller venues) and Theater District Parking

Outdoor facilities managed by Houston First include: Jones Plaza, Ray C. Fish Plaza, the Bush Monument and Sesquicentennial Park properties next to Wortham Center, as well as Root Square next to Toyota Center.

14.7

acres of plazas and
other green space

11

buildings valued
in excess of $1 billion

254

contracts and
14 leases

2,650,000

square feet of building space

10,000

parking spaces

 

GOVERNANCE:

A 12-member Board of Directors sets policy for the corporation and approves its major initiatives and expenditures. The City of Houston maintains an oversight role through the City Council’s approval of board appointments and its annual budget. Two City Council members also sit on the Board of Directors, in ex-officio roles.

DEPARTMENTS

SALES

The role of the department is to book the greatest possible number of hotel room nights generated from tradeshows, conventions and meetings.

Sales tactics include direct sales and meeting planner education via advertising, industry events, tradeshows, direct mail, relationship marketing, networking, distribution of collateral and city orientation visits.

Contact:
John Solis
Senior Vice President of Sales & Client Services
(713) 853-8926

Nathan Tollett
Director of Sales
(713) 853-8977

Jason L. Purifoy
Director of Sales
(713) 853-8338

View Sales Staff »

CLIENT SERVICES

Works with meeting planners to provide a wide range of services once a meeting is booked.

Services include site visits to hotels and facilities, itinerary building, housing and room block consultation, distribution of collateral materials, creation of custom collateral and customized attendance-generating promotions.

Works as a liaison between the meeting planner and GHCVB members.

View Client Services Staff »

EVENT SERVICES

Contact:
Paul Casso
Vice President of Event Services
(713) 853-8275

View Event Services Staff »

MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS

Promotes the Greater Houston area through advertising, public and media relations, sponsorship, special events, promotions, Web site and collateral development.

Contacts:
Holly Clapham-Rosenow
Chief Marketing Officer
(713) 853-8919

View Marketing Staff »

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

Support mechanism for day-to-day business operations of the GHCVB.

Responsibilities include financial management, human resources, office management and technological resources.

95 percent of GHCVB’s budget is funded through public sources: the city and county; 5 percent is funded through membership dues and other miscellaneous sources.

Contact:
Karen Williams
Vice President of Finance 
(713) 853-8304

View Finance and Administration Staff »

HOUSTON FILM COMMISSION

Promotes Houston, Harris County and the Eastern Gulf Coast region of Texas as a destination for film production.

Coordinates all marketing, advertising and sales efforts. Provides professional location services to film, video and print industries.

Contact:
Rick Ferguson
Vice President/Executive Director of the Film Commission
(713) 853-8956

View Film Commission Staff »

MEMBERSHIP

Responsible for maintaining and retaining GHCVB members.

Plans ongoing member events such as monthly membership mixers, business-to-business networking events, seminars and member orientations.

Contact:
Membership Services
(713) 853-8912

View Membership Staff »

VISITOR INFORMATION SERVICES

The function of the Visitor Information Services department is to increase visitor volume, increase the visitor's length of stay and resulting dollar expenditures for the Greater Houston Area and to encourage repeat visitations by providing guests relevant visitor information, retail merchandise and a quality visitor experience.

Contact:
(832) 986-8302

View Visitors Center Staff »

TOURISM

The Tourism Department is charged with the promotion of the Greater Houston area as desirable leisure destination with the goal of increasing travel to Houston by individuals and groups to generate increased business for area hotels, attractions, restaurants, etc. The department is also tasked with working with the Houston hospitality industry to assist them in their leisure promotional efforts and encourages the creation of new leisure product in the city.

Tourism works with domestic and international travel trade, including wholesale, retail and online agencies and tour operators in order to reach the traveling consumer. The Tourism team also participates in travel and consumer trade shows and organizes sales missions and familiarization trips to reach its key clients. This department also handles visits to Houston by international media to generate exposure for Houston in international markets.

Contact:
Jorge Franz
Senior Vice President of Tourism
(713) 853-8306

View Travel Trade Staff »

 

PARTNERSHIPS AND EVENT DEVELOPMENT

Leads in the generation of revenue and resources for HoustonFirst Corporation through corporate partnerships and grant acquisitions. Manages the development, growth and execution of innovative tradeshows, conferences and events to be held annually in Houston.

Contact:
Michael Heckman
Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Event Development
(713) 853-8932

View Partnerships and Event Development Staff »

GENERAL AND OPERATIONS

Contact:
Elliot Franklin
Distribution Supervisor
(713) 853-8303

View General and Operations Staff »

 

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