HOUSTON (February 9, 2017) – On the heels of helping host a highly successful Super Bowl LI that focused global attention on the city, Houston First Corporation announced today that the organization booked a new record number of room nights tied to future conventions in 2016.
The organization, which in partnership with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau is responsible for bringing conventions and tourism to the city, said its sales team booked 479 conventions and meetings in 2016, representing 765,401 room nights, up 4.4% from 732,967 room nights in 2015. It’s worth noting that the 2015 figure was also a record; that was the first year the organization was able to introduce renovation plans for the George R. Brown Convention Center and the broader campus surrounding it. That $175 million improvement project for the campus, now dubbed Avenida Houston, was completed in December 2016.
“What Houston has accomplished in the last few years now positions us to become a greater convention and leisure travel destination in the years ahead,” says David Mincberg, board chairman of Houston First. “The renovation of the GRB and its surroundings, along with the creation of new hotels including the Marriott Marquis, was part of a master plan for how Houston would win more convention business. With that plan now executed, we are already seeing the benefits of what’s been created.”
In addition to record convention sales, the organization’s website network, led by VisitHouston.com, logged nearly 7.4 million visitors in 2016, a new record up from 6.6 million in 2015. More than 380 positive articles, both domestic and international, were generated about the city as a destination and just over 311,000 room nights were generated by the organization’s tourism efforts.
Houston First began 2017 with yet another milestone as the organization hosted the largest client familiarization tour in its history coinciding with Super Bowl LI. The tour welcomed 19 meetings and conventions clients representing meetings in sectors such as agriculture, corporate meetings, energy, healthcare, information technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). These clients and prospective clients, the majority of which are considering Houston for the first time, represent conventions and meetings valued collectively at more than $300 million.
The organization also hosted major tourism clients including the executives from AeroMexico and Air Canada representing more than $73 million in potential return on investment for Houston; film and media clients associated with Viacom, Amazon, Fox, USA Network, BET, Collinson Publications and NBC, along with global business leaders such as top administrators from Messe Dusseldorf, one of the largest organizers of international tradeshows. Clients, guided by select HFC officials and board members, toured Avenida Houston and the recently transformed GRB and visited several of Houston’s major attractions before attending the big game.
Avenida Houston served as the backdrop to major events surrounding Super Bowl LI, including Super Bowl LIVE and the NFL Experience. The pedestrian-oriented campus is a legacy project that connects visitors to the GRB and surrounding attractions including the GRB, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, BBVA Compass, Marriott Marquis, Discovery Green and the Hilton Americas-Houston. In addition to 18 restaurants, the new entertainment district features unique art installations and events being programmed in partnership with Discovery Green.
“The renovations to the GRB and the creation of this campus experience have given us the opportunity to go after bigger meetings and conventions and made us far more attractive to a wide assortment of clients,” says Mike Waterman, executive vice president of Houston First. “With these incredible amenities, from restaurants to Discovery Green and everything in between, we have an experience few other destinations can match. And our sales results show that the market is definitely interested.”
Capitalizing on the tremendous media opportunity presented by the Super Bowl, the Houston First team secured more than 60 interviews about the city as a destination in domestic and international news outlets and worked with reporters on dozens of other stories. Stories ran in publications such as the New York Times, Esquire, USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Vogue as well as networks including CNN, ESPN, Fox and Bravo among others.
About Houston First
Houston First Corporation operates the city's finest convention and arts facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau aligned their operations to provide a single clear voice for the city under the brand Visit Houston. Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel and manages 11 city-owned buildings, plazas and parking facilities. Properties include the George R. Brown Convention Center, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Wortham Center and Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. For more information, log on to HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com