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tourismflyer Annual Meeting, Tourism Summit both on March 30

We are pleased to announce that the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting luncheon and the third annual Houston Tourism Summit will share the marquee on March 30 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The goals of the day-long summit are to learn the latest trends in our industry, exchange ideas and develop new relationships within the industry. Mayor Sylvester Turner will join us to kick off the day and the luncheon keynote speaker will be TV travel host Samantha Brown, who has her own show on the Travel Channel.

The Tourism Summit runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the GRB’s Bush Ballroom, bisected by the GHCVB annual meeting meal that runs from noon to 1:50 p.m.

The cost to attend is $35 for the entire day and/or to attend the luncheon. Go to for more details and  registration.


Enterprise Development
Strategic Planning

The team  reached a comprehensive, three-year marketing partnership agreement with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, allowing Houston First and Visit Houston to market to the massive rodeo audience, create joint tourism packages and provide hospitality opportunities for entertaining stakeholders and clients.

Planning for the 2017 SpaceCom Conference and Expo in December is fully underway and the advisory board has been expanded to include greater reach into the commercial space market.  Substantial growth is forecast for the third annual event.

Avenida Houston Shop

Avenida Houston Shop and Explore Houston sales reached $56,801 by continuing to add  more exciting merchandise. Local vendors such as Chloe Dao, Rozendove and Elizabeth Purpich brought in $6,000 of these sales.

Hilton Americas-Houston

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has recognized the Hilton Americas with the 2016 Award of Excellence for properties of more than 500 rooms. The local property was judged on the key criteria of quality assurance audits measuring cleanliness and property condition, customer scores rating staff service and guest loyalty. Our hotel previously won the award in 2014.

Avenida Houston

The first Avenida Communications Council meeting was held on March 2 with participation from Discovery Green, all six hotels and 21 of the 22 restaurants in the Avenida.  Programming plans were discussed, as well as marketing and communications platforms.  Activities will be planned on the plaza each day, Monday through Saturday, beginning March 13, as well as five major events through June.

Work continues on an interactive map of the Avenida and to further develop content and traffic for  Traffic for the site has outpaced forecasts year to date.

Cultural Development

No updates this month.


Cultural Facilities
Jones Hall

Jones Hall had only three days in February that were not contracted.  The rest were filled with rehearsals, meetings and performances.  STOMP showed kids how to use household items to make a lot of noise, and Yo-Yo Ma was, well, Yo-Yo Ma.  Staff spent those three open days frantically cleaning carpets and noisy maintenance tasks that cannot be performed with other activity in the building.

Wortham Theater Center

February brought excitement to Wortham with the successful NFL Honors event, which honored former NFL players and was televised nationwide from a full and beautiful Brown Theater.

Patrons filled Cullen Theater for an evening with author Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank. Schloss, a Holocaust survivor and humanitarian, is a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust.

Joey Alexander, a 13-year-old jazz prodigy, wowed Society for the Performing Arts patrons during his piano performance in the Cullen.  Born on the island of Bali, he first encountered the keyboards at age 6.

Harry Belafonte entertained Cullen Theater patrons with a show that included a presentation on how he exposed America to international music and challenged racial barriers across the globe.

A total of 17,546 guests enjoyed events at Wortham in February.

Sales and Marketing

The Theater District sales team reports the following shows were booked since the last report:

Teco Theatrical: Pieces of A Dream – March 31, Wortham Center
METdance: United in Dance – April 5, Wortham Center
Prometheus Foundation: Rock for Charity – April 23, Wortham Center
METdance: Dance Recitals – May 6, Wortham Center
Teco Theatrical: Alex Bugnon and Marc Antoine – May 7, Wortham Center
Indo-American Assn: Kavita Krishnamurthy   – May 12, Wortham Center
Teco Theatrical: West Coast Jam  – June 18, Wortham Center
Indo-American Assn: Grandharva Choir – June 25, Wortham Center
Society for the Performing Arts: Neil Gaiman – July 7, Wortham Center
Talcon Ways: Dr. Cesar Lozano – July 7, Wortham Center
Indo-American Assn: Hindustani: Carnatic Musical – September 17, Wortham Center
Indo-American Assn: Martha Graham Dance Company – October 1, Wortham Center
Teco Theatrical: Gerald Albright and Selina Albright – October 13, Wortham Center
Teco Theatrical: Nick Colionne – November 12, Wortham Center

Tickets for the following shows have gone on sale since the last report:

Pieces of A Dream – March 31, Wortham Center
Sanam Marvi – April 2, Wortham Center
United in Dance – April 7, Wortham Center
Rock for Charity – April 23, Wortham Center
Alex Bugnon and Marc Antoine – May 7, Wortham Center
West Coast Jam – June 18, Wortham Center
Gerald Albright and Selina Albright – October 13, Wortham Center
Nick Colionne – November 12, Wortham Center

Miller Outdoor Theatre

The staff has conducted meetings with Westlake Reed for the Miller Theatre 25-Year Master Plan, completed punch list items on counterweight rigging project and solicited bids for replacement audio and lighting consoles. All theatrical components were restored in preparation for Miller's 94th season, which begins tonight with Michael Londra's Celtic Fire.

Theater District Parking

No updates this month.

Talento Bilingue

Comedy concerts featuring local and national talent are attracting nice audiences to Talento Bilingue de Houston.

Paintings continue to fill the TBH Art Gallery with works from Houston artists, including students from nearby schools.

Conversing Through Poetry events are held the third Saturday of each month at TBH.


Convention Facilities
George R. Brown/Avenida Houston Plaza

The numbers are in and we are pleased to report the new Avenida Houston campus received more than 1.3 million visitors during the Super Bowl LI festivities.

The George R. Brown also hosted North American Prospect Expo (NAPE) with attendance of 11,271.  We hosted multiple events for NAPE and they were very happy with our renovations.  We also hosted the International Stroke Conference with attendance of 15,756.  In March, we hosted ABB, a high-profile security event with estimated attendance of 4,500.


Wanda Adams worked closely with the NFL Environmental staff to ensure that items used during NFL Experience were donated and diverted from the landfills. As a result, we scored a touchdown with our donation and material recovery initiative. Over 61 tons of material was diverted from the landfill, 3.9 tons of food was donated to local shelters, 46,000 shopping bags that were unused at the NFL Shops were donated to the Houston Food Bank, 250,000 square feet of carpet and turf was donated to Habitat for Humanity, Magnificent House, Houston Independent School District and the Harris County Animal Shelter, and 21 tons of recyclable materials were diverted from the landfills.

Avenida Parking

Houston First wants visitors to Avenida Houston to return again and again and one way is to alleviate parking concerns.  With our new parking guidance systems, visitors can now reserve parking in advance.

Parking equipment installation is complete in the Avenida North and Avenida South garages and begins in Avenida Central at the end of March. The parking guidance system at Avenida North has been live since January. All of our garages have received new signage, reflecting new branding. Avenida South was previously the Hotel & Convention Center Garage and Avenida Central was previously the Convention District Garage.

In February, visitors, events and meetings at the GRB utilized 52,783 parking spaces: Avenida Central Garage:  9,734 cars (garage closed for Super Bowl from February 1-10); Avenida South Garage: 19,000 cars; Avenida North Garage: 12,985 cars; and Tundra Garage: 11,064 cars. Event drop-off and pick-up for  Houston Hispanic Forum and the Super Bowl utilized the south transit center; NAPE and the NFL utilized the north transit center.



Sales team members attended the Financial and Insurance Conference Planners Conference as well as the International Congress and Convention Association trade show to promote Houston as a premier global convention and meeting destination. Both events featured meeting executives that plan significant meetings in the corporate, association and specialty markets. 

The citywide team generated over 200,000 possible room nights with conferences utilizing one of our major convention facilities while the non-citywide team added over 56,000 tentative room nights for conventions for future years.

Client Services

Client Services manager Brian Stonesifer traveled to San Antonio to promote attendance at the Texas High School Coaches Association Leadership Summit.  The THSCA Coaching School and Convention will be in Houston in July this year.

The team conducted nine planning site visits for upcoming conventions including INFORMS (October 2017); Congress of Neurological Surgeons (October 2018); American Planning Association (April 2020); Texas FFA (dates TBD); Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries (August 2017); Rockwell Automation (November 2017); Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (July 2018); Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (June 2018), and FIRST Championship (April 2017).

Event Services

Events Services assisted with four events: Super Bowl LI customer event (February 3-5), Q1 sales blitz (February 15), Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Festival (February 17-18) and the CESSE Mid-Winter CEO Meeting in Austin (February 19-22).

Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture's New Year New You event planned for February 21 was postponed and rescheduled for April 3. We have also established a schedule for nine events in the coming quarter.

General Counsel

No updates this month


Travel expert and TV host Samantha Brown will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Tourism Summit on March 30. This full-day workshop, featuring news and trends in marketing and tourism along with presentations from recognized leaders in travel, will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

During the Super Bowl in Houston the Tourism Department supported several international media outlets including ESPN Mexico, CNN Mexico, TVBS China, UK’s Virgin Radio and French Canadian online travel site Siege Hublot as well as local and national Spanish TV, Univision and Telemundo.

Also in February and continuing with the Hola Houston campaign, Tourism hosted a series of events in Queretaro, Mexico. Tourism director Pilar Florez was joined by chef Justin Turner from Bernie’s Burgers Bus and artist GONZO247.

International PR hosted two individual media visits by the London Evening Standard (2.5 million readers) and by a freelance travel writer from The Netherlands with assignments from three publications, including an important golf magazine, with a combined reach of 1.3 million.

International media value for February: $676,690; Total worldwide impressions: 19,765,246.


New members added in February were Rainforest Café Katy, Hilton Garden Inn Houston Bush/IAH, Courtyard by Marriott Houston Galleria, Rainforest Café Galleria, Top Golf Houston-Spring, Xochi, Home2Suites by Hilton Energy Corridor, Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor, Holiday Inn Houston N.E. Bush Airport, Laurenzo’s Bar & Grill, Pappadeaux Seafood Avenida, GETZ Transportation Solutions and TC Ranch Ventures.

Corporate Affairs

No updates this month.

Public Affairs

Public Affairs has been busy monitoring the 85th Texas Legislative session where, to date, over 7,500 bills have been filed. We have stayed abreast of more than 100 of those bills that directly affect issues related to travel and tourism. The session started in January and will continue through May.

We also attended the Texas Travel Industry Association’s Unity Dinner in Austin. We hosted film industry stakeholders as part of our continued efforts to collaborate on seeking increased funding for the state film incentive program.

We also participated in a similar transportation-oriented outreach effort called Green Light Houston, advocating to state legislators with the Transportation Advocacy Group.

Lastly, we participated in the Texas Hotel Lodging Association and TTIA’s "Converge on the Capital," where we joined stakeholders in reiterating our industry’s legislative concerns with elected officials.  

Marketing and Communications


SI model Myla Dalbesio tries her hand at cooking on Avenida plaza.

Houston didn’t take a break following Super Bowl LI, playing host to Sports Illustrated 2017 VIBES Festival just a couple of weeks after the big game. Some of the coverage included stories in the Houston Chronicle, CultureMap, KPRC, Houstonia, KTRK, KHOU, Sports Illustrated, Great Britain’s The Sun, and twice in the The Daily Mail (here and here)

Additionally, several stories ran as a result of public relations pitches and activity including leisure pieces in: Houston Business Journal, Esquire, Austin Monthly, Texas Monthly, Meetings Today, Tasting Table, PapercityBrides and KHOU. Avenida Houston was also profiled in a major feature in Downtown magazine.

Lastly, the team conducted 11 interviews promoting Houston and hosted four journalists in partnership with Rice University’s Moody Center from publications including Art in America, Wallpaper Magazine, Artforum and Architects Newspaper.

In February, our network of websites generated over 430,000 visits with a media value of $2 million.

Film Commission

sundance film

Film sent Alfred Cervantes to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

In February Houston hosted 88 filming days with direct expenditures of $1,325,000 and an economic impact of $3,975,000.  Some of these projects include:

Commercials: United Airlines, Verizon, Mercedes and Lexus.
Television Series/Cable Series: Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer, Out Daughtered, Over My Dead Body, The Wahlburgers, Bar Stool Sports, My 600-Pound Life and Texas Vet.
Documentary/Industrials: Zachry.

Regional Product Development

Freeway corridor enhancements – Construction to enhance eight bridge fence crossings over I-69, from Tuam to Bell, is scheduled to begin this month.  Enhancements will consist of weaving colorful strips of high-density vinyl into the existing chain link fences. The strips, depicting pixelated images based on photographs taken by children, are illustrated below.

pixelated bridge images

The images in the vinyl strips are pixelated by design.

Jones Plaza – The re-imagining of Jones Plaza continues. The re-programming study is expected to be complete by the end of March.  

A new attraction for Houston – Houston First has selected a team from a short list and is engaged in contract negotiations with the chosen group. The winning team will be announced at the end of the month.

Potential public market – A feasibility study on creating a full-time public market for food, arts and crafts has established that Houston has the need and can indeed support such a market. We are now in the process of conducting an analysis of potential market sites.  

Freeway corridor enhancements – As part of our efforts to enhance and better maintain our region’s freeway corridors, we have convened a group of 15 stakeholders to focus on beautification, enhanced maintenance standards, and design treatments for special areas, such as underpasses, along airport corridors.

Finance & Administration

F&A's financial management and accountability report can be found here.

The Community Outreach group interacted with Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum, Houston First Opportunity Day, Greater Houston Procurement Forum and Tri County Black Chamber Beacon Awards.

The team also provided consulting services on doing business with Houston First to 7 Star Juice Bar, Centerplate, Delmet Services, All About People, Julia Cooks Organic, Recruiting Source International, Lane Staffing, Thomas Group, Adventus, First Class Cleaning, Connect The Dots, Marsden South, Pride Staff, Levy Restaurants, Pritchard Sports, Professional Janitorial Services, Flagship Inc., United Maintenance Company, Royalty Commercial Care, Sodexo Sports and Leisure, Ambassador Services, Midwest Maintenance, Aramark Sports and Entertainment, HBS National, Mark Latigue Catering, Gutier, Trilogy Engineering Services, T&K’s Mobile Detailing, Office Evolutions, Abbys Catering and Skanska.


Information Technology


A fire suppression system has replaced sprinklers in the server room.

A fire suppression system has been installed in the IT server room on the second floor of Partnership Tower. The fire suppression system is a gas system that replaces the typical sprinkler system.  Suppression systems do not leave behind oily residues, water or corrosive materials and reaches extinguishing levels in 10 seconds or less. This gives us peace of mind knowing that the company’s computer equipment and server room hardware are safe and company data is protected.