In 1963, at the direction of Mayor Louie Welch, seven men gathered at the Rice Hotel. Their purpose—to create an organization dedicated to marketing Houston as a convention and leisure destination.

It was their vision that spurred the development of cutting-edge venues like the Astrodome and the George R. Brown Convention Center, The Hilton Americas-Houston, the forthcoming Marriott Marquis and Discovery Green. Today, Houston is a modern metropolis-a global business leader with a $12 billion travel industry that was named to The New York Times' list of 46 places to visit in 2013.

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) celebrated past accomplishments at its 50th annual meeting, while also highlighting future achievements.

2012 Numbers

Domestic Meetings

  • 352 Definite Bookings
  • 555,045 Definite Room Nights
  • $671,000,000 Future Direct Expenditures

International Meetings & Tour Operators

  • 69,783 Contracted Room Nights
  • $116,453,686 Future Direct Expenditures

Film and Commercial Projects

  • 180 Projects
  • $10,700,000 Direct Impact

Gross Return: $798,153,686
Investment: $16.1 million

*For every dollar invested, in the GHCVB for FY'12, Houston/Harris County received $50 in return.

In addition:

  • Domestic and international media placements reached more than 500 million people

Major Initiatives
As the meetings marketplace became more competitive in recent years, the GHCVB began developing annual tradeshows from the ground up that will stimulate Houston's 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. Due to this distinctive approach and the quality of the program content and speakers, the Houston Chronicle rated it as one of the top 5 energy shows of 2012.

Under that same model, the GHCVB reached an agreement to bring an annual medical event to Houston, beginning in April 2014. The GHCVB will partner 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.

International group sales continue to be a major focus, and Houston was formally accepted into the BestCities Global Alliance in 2012-a certification program that ensures a consistent level of excellence from its roster of top tier international cities. Houston joins an elite alliance of partner cities-Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Melbourne, Singapore, Vancouver and Berlin. All partners will share leads for convention business, increasing Houston's opportunities to book international association business.

Major achievements of 2012
The domestic convention sales team contracted 555,045 room nights, 100 percent of goal with a direct expenditure of more than $671 million dollars for future years. This total represents 354 bookings.

The sales team has 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:


  • 2014 American Association of Blacks in Energy: 500 attendees
  • 2016 Offshore Technology Conference: 89,000 attendees


  • 2017 & 2020 Science Teachers Association of Texas: 7,000 attendees
  • 2018 National Society Teachers Association: 10,000 attendees


  • 2019: American Society for Human Genetics: 6,000 attendees
  • 2022: American Association of Critical Care Nurses: 7,500 attendees


  • 2013 Austin Junior Volleyball: 10,000 attendees
  • 2014 USA Volleyball: 10,000 attendees

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

  • 2015 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.: 20,000 attendees
  • 2016 Generation of Youth for Christ: 8,000 attendees

More than 69,000 room nights from the international meetings and leisure marketplace were contracted-a 159 percent increase over last year.

In addition to all the conventions the GHCVB booked for future years, Houston hosted 348 conventions, events and shows in 2012 that drew 573,028 convention delegates to Houston, translating into an economic impact of $558.1 million, based on attendance.

Nearly 2.5 million people visited the Houston CVB's expansive web network in 2012, which includes,,, and 28 percent growth over 2011. The network of websites generated 99,000 room nights in 2012. Additionally, 32 advertisers took advantage of online opportunities via the VisitHouston network. With a click-through rate five times the national average, the website delivered a huge return for members who invested.

Publicity-wise, the GHCVB generated more than 1,350 domestic and international media placements. High profile placements include: The New York Times, New York Post, Hemispheres cover story, Washington Post, GQ Mexico, The Independent Newspaper (UK), Lufthansa Magazine (Germany), Western Living (Canada) and Apple Daily News (Taiwan).

Looking to the Future
Medical World Americas is the first in a series of health care-related business the GHCVB is pursuing, working in partnership with the Texas Medical Center. The most prominent of these prospects is the International Conference on the Genome, put together by the Human Genome Organization based in Singapore. A unique aspect of this bid is a joint invitation in partnership with Edinburgh, Scotland, a member of the BestCities marketing alliance.

On the energy front, the GHCVB started working recently to bring the World Petroleum Congress to Houston. The GHCVB will organize a bid committee for 2017 which will include players from some of Houston top energy companies. This particular conference would represent a major achievement for Houston-generating about 42,000 room nights for local hotels.

The Offshore Technology Conference, Houston's largest annual convention with nearly 90,000 attendees in 2012, was given a special award for their commitment to Houston.

Longtime GHCVB employee Patti Olson was given the inaugural John D. O'Connell Award-named after the GHCVB's chairman emeritus, for 41 years of service to the organization.

GHCVB Leadership
The 2013 leadership was selected at the December 2012 board meeting. Alex Brennan-Martin, owner of Brennan's of Houston, will continue as chair of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau for a second term.