HOUSTON (March 26, 2014) - The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau celebrated a banner year in 2013 with future convention bookings totaling more than 551,000 room nights for a direct impact of $345 million.

The organization reported on last year's accomplishments and launched its 51st year with ambitious new goals at its annual meeting on March 26. The event at the Wortham Theater Center opened with the debut of a striking artistic collaboration between the Houston Symphony, the GHCVB and local production company ZenFilm that illustrates a day in the life of the city set to an original score by composer Jeff Walton.

2013 Achievements

Domestic Meetings
• 551,397 definite room nights booked for future years - 100% of goal
• $345 million direct impact

International Meetings
• 79,282 definite room nights booked for future years - 198% of goal
• $77 million direct impact

Film and Commercial Projects
• 203 projects - 127% of goal
• $18.2 million direct impact

Website Network Reach
• 3.6 million visitors - 178% of goal
• Websites generated 111,204 room nights

In addition, domestic and international media placements valued at $31.8 million reached more than 300 million people.

Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the GHCVB, says when the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, no one could have predicted that 2013 would end up being one of its best. "Many of our departments reported extraordinary performance," Ortale says. "I am incredibly proud of the entire staff of the GHCVB for their dedication to our organization and to Houston. It's because of our team, and the efforts of our larger hospitality community, that Houston is finally receiving the recognition it deserves as a convention and tourism destination."

Significant domestic sales bookings during the year included:

• The National Football League's Super Bowl LI in 2017, which will bring more than 500,000 attendees and significant media exposure to Houston
• The National Association of College Stores' 2016 CAMEX/Ed Expo with 8,500 attendees and 14,335 room nights
• Vendome Group LLC's 2016 Healthcare Design Conference with 2,000 attendees and 5,800 room nights

Sales also identified 2.4 million room nights in 2013 for prospective future meetings, 175% of its goal.

In addition to the conventions the GHCVB booked for future years, Houston hosted 263 conventions , events and shows in 2013 that drew 581,980 attendees to Houston, translating into an economic impact of $462 million, based on attendance.

Nearly 3.6 million people visited the Houston CVB's expansive web network in 2013, which includes VisitHouston.com, VisitaHoustonTexas.com, MyGayHouston.com, HoustonCulinaryTours.com and HoustonReunions.com-a 44% increase over 2012. The network of websites generated 111,204 room nights in 2013 with a direct economic impact of $47.1 million.

Publicity-wise, the GHCVB generated 299 domestic and international media placements. High profile placements include: Departures, Food & Wine, Southern Living, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Major Initiatives
As the meetings marketplace became more competitive in recent years, the GHCVB began developing annual tradeshows from the ground up designed to stimulate the local economy for years to come. The GHCVB launched the Total Energy USA Conference and Expo in 2012-the first of its kind in North America to examine all sources of energy in one place.

Under that same model, the GHCVB reached an agreement to bring an annual medical event to Houston, beginning in 2014. The GHCVB has partnered with the producer of the largest medical show in the world-MEDICA-to develop Medical World Americas in Houston to further enhance the Texas Medical Center's global reputation. The event is set for April 28-30, 2014.

On another front, the success of the GHCVB's network of websites has led to the creation of a new platform, IDoHOU.com. This new weddings website will leverage the GHCVB's existing membership base and give those planning nuptials and related events in the city a new tool. The GHCVB anticipates the new site, set to launch in late spring, will also help grow online advertising opportunities and generate new revenue.

In 2013, the GHCVB created a new award to be presented annually to a person or organization making a significant contribution to the local tourism industry and Houston as a whole. The award was named for Jack O'Connell, a GHCVB chairman emeritus who himself contributed immeasurably to the hospitality community over several decades.

The 2014 Jack O'Connell Award was presented to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 83 years of support for the tourism industry and education in the Houston community. It's fitting that an award named for O'Connell should go to the Rodeo since he was instrumental in bringing the event from the Sam Houston Coliseum to the newly established Astrodome complex in 1966. That move allowed the Rodeo to expand tremendously in ensuing years.

GHCVB Leadership
The 2014 leadership was elected at the December 2013 board meeting. Sonia Garza-Monarchi, owner of Garza Protocol Associates LLC, assumed the role of chair of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau from outgoing chair Alex Brennan-Martin.

Unique Collaboration
The new video, A Soundtrack for the City (Inspired by Houston), was the concept of the GHCVB brought to life by the Houston Symphony, Zen Film and Jeff Walton. The symphony's musicians gave their time to record the piece while Zen spent countless hours recording time lapse video across the city. The complete piece will be used by the GHCVB and other organizations to help promote the city. Click here to watch the video.


A.J. Mistretta
Senior Public Relations Manager
713-437-5206 Office
832-465-5762 Mobile

Leah Fillion
Public Relations Manager
713-437-5275 Office
832-289-4796 Mobile