by John Egan
From 2013 to 2014, the Houston area gained more than 150,000 new residents. But it's not just residents flocking to Houston. Close to 15 million people, many of them meeting attendees, visited Houston in 2014.
"You could spend 365 days in our city and still not experience everything we have to offer. Showing visitors a good time is what we do," Houston Mayor Annise Parker says.
So, what makes Houston a magnet for meetings? Here are 10 reasons.
- Houston sits in the central part of the United States, making it easy to hop on a plane and check into your hotel room within a few hours' time. Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport provides nonstop service to more than 170 destinations around the world. Houston's William P. Hobby Airport offers about 40 nonstop routes.
- By 2017, Houston's downtown Convention District will transform into one of the most dynamic entertainment and hospitality areas in the US. The Convention District will be the only one in Texas with two headquarters hotels connected to a convention center - the existing Hilton Americas-Houston and the under-construction Marriott Marquis Houston.
- Houston boasts about 75,000 hotel rooms at properties that can cater to meetings small and large.
- More than 4.4 million square feet of convention space is available in the Houston area, putting it among the top US locales in terms of meeting accommodations. The biggest venue is the George R. Brown Convention Center, which features 1.8 million square feet of meeting, exhibition and registration space.
- Houston offers four professional sports venues with ample space for meetings and events: BBVA Compass Stadium, Minute Maid Park, NRG Stadium and the Toyota Center.
- The Houston Museum District comprises 20 museums, galleries and other cultural centers, including The Menil Collection, the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Children's Museum of Houston.
- An assortment of parks - including Discovery Green, Hermann Park and Memorial Park - provide numerous recreational opportunities when you're seeking a break from your meeting.
- Critics rave that Houston serves up one of the best foodie scenes in the country, with specialties ranging from barbecue to Vietnamese. The area has more than 10,000 restaurants representing cuisine from over 70 countries and US regions.
- Houston is very cosmopolitan. More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the region. Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, calls Houston "the most diverse city in America." The chamber held its 2015 convention in Houston.
- Houston is a business powerhouse - the world's energy capital, the home of more than two dozen Fortune 500 headquarters and the site of the world's largest medical complex. Palomarez says that few places reflect America's economic and cultural strength more than Houston does. "The city of Houston has served as a major hub for attracting world-class innovation, captains of industry and the brightest minds from across the globe," he says
Learn more about planning your next meeting or event in Houston at www.visithoustontexas.com/meetings/