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Still Silver

GRB chillers GRB keeps LEED status

With apologies to Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being green.

With 1.8 million square feet under roof and an operating schedule that varies with daily events, staff at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center knows all too well the challenge of being energy efficient.

Nevertheless, the Houston First facility cleared every hurdle in the painstaking task of being re-certified as a LEED Silver building.

Read more here.


Enterprise Development
Strategic Planning

The team started planning for the upcoming  Joint Board Retreat, scheduled for April 29-30, by collecting “lessons learned” information about the capital planning process. The team also kicked off the process to collect the 2016 Business Plan Final Report from each department.

Avenida Houston Shop

Avenida Houston Shop's new cases are on display and LED lighting was installed. Customers were also introduced to new high-end merchandise from Rozendove Houston and Elizabeth Purpich Collections. Rozendove Houston brings images to silk scarves from local artists such as Syd Moen. The Elizabeth Purpich Collection gives Avenida Houston Shop a ritzy feel with 100% leather and hide handbags.

Hilton Americas-Houston

The hotel earned an overall index score of 96.77% on the Hilton Quality Assurance Audit. This outstanding performance incorporates overall service in guest room cleanliness, brand standards, food and beverage facilities, among other categories.

Avenida Houston

The general managers of Avenida Houston restaurants were invited to two meetings focused on Super Bowl Live activation. Representatives from each restaurant -- plus Brasserie du Parc, The Grove and Nick Massad III -- attended. The restaurants were opened for Super Bowl, although Bud’s BBQ debuted in a “sneak peek” format. While there were challenges associated with three of the restaurants being inside the NFL’s security perimeter, the weekend of the game saw good numbers at each establishment.

Bud’s will open full time near the end of April when its pit is completed.

Cultural Development

Collaborating with local arts institutions increases opportunities to tell Houston's unique stories to visitors and residents in and along the Avenida Houston campus. On-loan art exhibits are on display in two locations.

Holocaust Exhibit

On view at the north end of the George R. Brown Convention Center, on level 2, are five display cases from the Holocaust Museum Houston, shown above. Each case has its own theme and contains individual butterflies handmade by children from all over the world, commemorating the 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust.

Floyd Newsum was recently honored when two of his works were donated to the permanent collection of The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The three paintings on display in the lobby of Partnership Tower depict the artist's concerns about climate change.


Cultural Facilities
Jones Hall

After a mid-winter break, Society for the Performing Arts and Houston Symphony hit the ground running for the second half of their 2016-17 performance seasons.

Shows included Cirque Goes to the Movies, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the Emperor Concerto by Beethoven.  The PBS children’s show, Odd Squad, brought a young audience to experience beautiful Jones Hall.  Yes, Jones Hall and Houston were saved from the very odd killer plant by all the Odd Squad agents in the house!

Wortham Theater Center

Houston Grand Opera conducted backstage tours to add to patrons’ enjoyment before HGO's performances of "Nixon in China."

Fish Plaza in front of Wortham Center remains a popular downtown location for fun runs and walks.  The Choco Loco 5K fun run took place on January 15.

The final days of January saw the beginnings of the excitement surrounding the National Football League as move-in preparations began for the February 4 NFL Honors event.

Sales and Marketing

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

NFL: NFL Honors – February 4, Wortham Center
Houston Super Bowl Host Committee/Pepsi: Pepsi Display – January 31-February 6, Jones Plaza
Da Camera of Houston: Brentano String Quartet – March 1, Wortham Center
TransCanada: Rodeo Roundup – March 7, Jones Plaza
Rockin’ Road to Dublin: Rockin’ Road to Dublin – March 9, Wortham Center
Da Camera of Houston: Marquis Hill Blacktet – March 11, Wortham Center
LJ Productions: Hijas de su Madre – March 12, Wortham Center
Prairie View A&M: KPVU Anniversary Benefit Concert – March 18, Wortham Center
Mercury: Haydn & Beethoven – March 25, Wortham Center
Indo-American Association: Sanam Marvi – April 2, Wortham Center
Ecclesia Church: Community Easter Gathering – April 15, Wortham Center
Da Camera of Houston: Terence Blanchard – April 22, Wortham Center
Da Camera of Houston: Vijay Iyer – May 4, Wortham Center
Houston Symphony: May rehearsals, performances – May 2-29, Jones Hall
Indo-American Association: Kavita Krishnamurthy – May 12, Wortham Center
Lott Entertainment Presents: Shaping Sound – June 7, Jones Hall

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

Harry Belafonte – February 23, Wortham Center
Rockin’ Road to Dublin – March 9, Wortham Center
Hijas de su Madre – March 12, Wortham Center
KPVU Benefit Concert: Gregory Porter & Lalah Hathaway – March 18, Wortham Center
Shaping Sound – June 7 Jones Hall.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

The staff is busy working behind the scenes in preparation for the new season, which begins on March 17 with Michael Londra's Celtic Fire.

Theater District Parking

No updates this month.

Sunset Coffee/Talento Bilingue

Eclectric Art Show was on display in the Talento Bilingue de Houston Art Gallery through January and included many different art styles.

The first Bayou City Menudo & Pozole Cook-Off was a fun wild success for TBH and was enjoyed by many neighbors throughout the community.

Nightly rehearsals by various community dance groups continue to fill the TBH halls and stage throughout the week.


Convention Facilities
George R. Brown Convention Center

Three major conventions were held in January for attendance of 20,275. These big shows were the Conference of the Generation of Youth for Christ, Society of Thoracic Surgeons and World Missions Summit.

The number of non-convention events taking place during the month was seven, attracting a total attendance of 96,220. A few of these events were the Houston Marathon, MLK Breakfast, 24th Annual Black Heritage Gala, Bridal Extravaganza and the Industrial Info Resources Market Outlook.

Event and Guest Services conducted nine site visits during the month in addition to managing convention and non-convention events.

Parking continues to be an important business sector at the GRB. Avenida District Parking utilized 53,190 parking spaces last month, including Avenida Central Garage:  10,718 cars (Garage closed January 20–February 10 for Super Bowl security); Avenida South Garage: 21,610 cars; Avenida North Garage: 9,873 cars; and Tundra Garage: 10,989 cars. Thoracic Surgeons, Nice System and Super Bowl all utilized the Avenida South Transit Center for event drop-off and pick-up. Avenida North Transit Center was also used for the Super Bowl.





Sales team members participated in the Professional Convention Management Association's annual conference as well as the Texas Society of Association Executives' annual Southwest Showcase, both of which were held in Austin.  These events featured meeting executives from around the country that plan significant events in the corporate, association and specialty markets.

The citywide team generated over 144,000 possible room nights for future years with conferences utilizing one of our major convention facilities. The non-citywide team secured close to 11,000 definite room nights for conventions while adding another 100,000 tentative room night opportunities.

The international team secured 1,173 definite room nights for future years and added an additional 8,746 tentative room night opportunities.

Client Services

Client Services conducted 11 planning site visits for upcoming conventions. including American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (May/June 2018), ACPA – College Student Educators International (March 2018), Airport Minority Advisory Council (June 2017), Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (November 2017), Texas Society of Association Executives (September 2017), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (July 2018), International Facility Management Association (October 2017), FIRST Championship (April 2017), Society of Exploration Geophysicists (September 2017), ANCC Magnet Conference (October 2017), and Rockwell Automation Fair (November 2017).  

The team facilitated taxi rallies at Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport. Client Services and Event Services provided calendar information on major conferences as well as Top Taxi info.

Event Services

Events Services assisted with seven events: Matching Grants Winners (January 5), PCMA Convening Leaders (January 8-11), TBTA Luncheon (January 11), Taxi Rally (January 11), GHCVB New Member Orientation (January 18), Southwest Showcase (January 26) and the Super Bowl hospitality suite (January 28-29).

Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture assisted with the Super Bowl hospitality suite on January 28-29.

General Counsel

No updates this month


Tourism hit the ground running with the 2017 Tourism Marketing Matching Grant Program on January 5.  This initiative brings together tourism organizations to work collaboratively to create packages that will be marketed to potential visitors outside the region.

Lone Star Flight Museum, Da Camera, Fresh Arts and the Houston Marathon Committee, along with 10 others, received matching marketing grants.  Last year, in its first year, the Matching Grants Program yielded over 3,000 room nights and an impact of more than $350,000 for our region.

On January 23 Tourism brought the first ever Forbes Travel Guide Hospitality Training Certification to Houston.  The Forbes training focused on providing front line personnel with best practices and professional guidelines to help excel in customer satisfaction. More than 150 local professional industry associates participated in the four-hour interactive seminar at the Houstonian. Among the hospitality industries represented were hotels and restaurants, the Houston Airport System and Metro.

In other initiatives, Tourism hosted Fitness & Romantic Trip for our social media brand ambassador for Mexico, attended the Travvy Awards in NYC, where Houston was nominated for its U.S.-Canada Culinary Capital and Family Destination, and assisted ESPN Mexico to film travel capsules around Houston, broadcasted during their coverage of Super Bowl.

International media value for January: $1,314,547; Total worldwide impressions: 5,316,857.


In January, Membership's InFormer e-newsletter was issued to 4,400 stakeholders and GHCVB members. Membership also hosted orientation for 47 attendees, including prospects, new and existing GHCVB members, and held a bi-monthly membership tutorial for 17 GHCVB members.

New members added during the month were Holiday Inn – Southwest, GHL/Greater Houston Limousine Service, Petroleum Club of Houston, Courtyard by Marriott I-10 West/Energy Corridor, Tech Ave Audio Visual Events, Ritual, Show Business Entertainment, Texas National Outfitters, Andrus Communication, Password Productions, Bullritos - Downtown Park Shops, Bullritos - Greenway Commons, Osso & Kristalla, Potente, Abby's Catering, Doppelganger Band, Fayette County Tourism Association, The KD Company and Carpe Diem PR.

Corporate Affairs

Corporate Affairs and other stakeholders participated in the following community events in  January:  Houston Minority Development Council Town Hall Meeting, Greater Houston Frontiers Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, Black Heritage Rodeo and Western Gala, Greater Houston Partnership Annual Meeting, Texas Southern University Scholarship Soiree, Blueprint Houston Reception, and Hotel Lodging Association of Greater Houston Luncheon.

Public Affairs

No updates this month.  

Marketing and Communications

There's little doubt Super Bowl LI was one of the most exciting in the game's 51-year run. But some would argue Houston was the big winner. The Bayou City shined as the host to the national sporting event, garnering accolades from media around the world.

In January, the network of websites generated 433,000 visits. The media value for this exposure was $3.5 billion.

Houston launched into the new year by landing on Forbes Travel’s top place to travel in 2017 list, before scoring big with the Super Bowl.

Here's a recap of Super Bowl-related stories from outlets including: The New York Times, Food Network Magazine, Boston Globe, CNN, USA Today, Bravo, Esquire magazine, Vogue, ESPN, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Austin American Statesman, Providence Journal, Spokesman Review, Alaska Airlines and Calgary Herald just to name a few.

Houston’s art scene wasn’t lost in the mix. AFAR included Houston’s murals in this roundup of surprising cities with street art. Local designers at LAUNCH pop-up shop shone brightly in publications including Houstonia, KPRC, KHOU, KRIV, PaperCity and Hot in Houston. LAUNCH was a collaboration between fashion expert Sydney Dao and Houston First to showcase local talent on the nation stage during Super Bowl and beyond.

Finally, Landscape Architecture magazine recognized the art sculptures that helped transform Avenida Houston.

Film Commission

In  January Houston hosted 21 film and video productions resulting in 74 filming days with direct expenditures of $1,293,200 and an economic impact of $3,879,600.  Some of these projects include:

Commercials: Exxon Mobil-Heigh Ho, Academy Sportswear, Mobile Phone Gaming App, Carl’s Jr. Restaurant, Beauty Product infomercial and  NFL Sports Super Bowl.
Television Series/Cable Series: ESPN, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Guerra  De Idolos, TV Azteca Super Bowl, Murder Made Me Famous, My 600 LB Life, Super Bowl Broadcast Special  and Skin Tight,
Documentary/Industrials: “Untitled Lucky Peach”, My Fat Pet, Rattled and The Trouble With Ray.

The Film Commission was a sponsor of the Mayor’s Houston Entertainment Summit in January as well as the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Regional Product Development

Freeway corridor enhancements – Construction to enhance eight bridge fence crossings over I-69 from Tuam Street to Bell Street was delayed to accommodate Super Bowl traffic. Work will begin this week.  Enhancements will consist of weaving colorful strips of high-density vinyl into the existing chain link fences. The strips will depict pixilated images based on photographs by children compiled in the publication “In the eyes of Our Children: Houston, an American City.”

Jones Plaza – The re-imagining of Jones Plaza continues with update meetings/workshops with many stakeholders, including Houston First, City of Houston, the Downtown District and the Theater District. The re-programming study expected to be complete by the end of March.  

A new attraction for Houston – Following a request for qualifications to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study for a new iconic attraction for Houston, a selection committee has shortlisted three firms. The winning team will be announced at the end of February.

Finance & Administration

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

Information Technology

IT kicked it in to high gear for NFL Honors at Wortham Center by assisting with Wi-Fi expansion and installation and additional telecommunications equipment.

IT also assisted users with sustainability reporting needs in Ungerboeck and began discussions with Republic Parking on capturing revenues in the module.

The team also worked with Finance to finalize 1099 reporting and confirmation of data for its B2G diversity reporting system. IT is currently reviewing next steps in backups for restoration and disaster recovery.