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Visit Houston's Jessika Alexander is CTE Certified

Jessika Alexander CTE pic edited

Distinguished industry certification good for Jessika and Houston

Jessika Alexander is making herself and Houston First/Visit Houston proud. Jessika is the first person on the Visit Houston team to earn her Certified Tourism Executive (CTE) designation from the Travel and Tourism College offered by the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA).

Jessika has served as international tourism and media specialist in the Tourism division for two years. In this role, she regularly hosts international journalists to generate positive media for the city of Houston around the world.

She is part of an elite group; Jessika is one of only 117 people nationwide to have received the highly regarded CTE designation. Participants in the certification program must complete a three-year process, which includes coursework and a rigorous final project. The program, only seven years old, is open to all travel and tourism professionals and incorporates a week of intensive tourism marketing and management courses taught by college professors and seasoned travel and tourism experts. 

For her final project, Jessika coordinated the production of a Houston Visitors Guide, which was translated and published in Essentially America magazines in the UK, Germany and China.  

“I am grateful to Houston First/Visit Houston for allowing me the opportunity to grow professionally,” said Jessika Alexander. “The program offered by TTIA was exceptional and with what I have learned, I know I will be better able to market Houston as one of the world’s premier destinations.”

“This is a big deal. By increasing her knowledge and expertise in the travel and tourism industry, Jessika has not only taken her career another step further, she has become a more valuable asset as a world-class professional, promoting Houston as a world-class city,” said Jorge Franz, vice president of Tourism for Visit Houston.

Read more here.

 

FACILITIES

Enterprise Development
Partnership & Events

No updates this month.

Avenida Houston Shop

Avenida Houston Shop continues to expand its selection of merchandise to better serve Hilton and GRB guests. The men's department has grown to include items such as ties, dress socks, belts and handmade shaving kits. The shop also geared up for the summer with pool necessities; guests can find swimsuits, swim trunks, sandals and the trendy round beach towels. 

State Line Designs, a successful LAUNCH vendor, is now available at both Flight and Avenida Houston Shop.

Hilton Americas-Houston

No updates this month.

Avenida Houston

No updates this month.

Cultural Development

No updates this month. 

Cultural Facilities

Sales and Marketing

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

  • Inprint: Nathan Englander & Nicole Krauss – September 18, 2017, Wortham Center
  • SPA: Penn & Teller – October 12, 2017, Jones Hall
  • Flamart: Houston Latin Fest – October 15, 2017, Jones Plaza
  • SPA: Alisa Weilerstein & Inon Barnatan – October 21, 2017, Wortham Center
  • Inprint: Jennifer Egan & Claire Messud – November 6, 2017, Wortham Center
  • Kenneth Freeman: Ultimate Fan Fest – November 11, 2017, Jones Plaza
  • Southern US Falun Dafa Assn: Shen Yun – December 22-28, 2017, Jones Hall
  • Gary Steven Mulvhill: ChocoLoco 5K Run/Walk – January 21, 2017, Fish Plaza
Jones Hall

Jones Hall hosted seven events in June with attendance for the month totaling 10,230. SPA brought the Circus to the Jones Hall stage – Circus 1903, that is. Jurassic Park roared onto the big screen accompanied by live music from the Houston Symphony, and more than 1,500 people enjoyed Majik’s Live After Five on Jones Plaza.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

No updates this month.

Talento Bilingue

The Talento Bilingue de Houston summer time operation continues strong with various events. A major focus is on the summer day camp for students. Open Mic evening events continue and the front lobby is a great place for all visitors to enjoy the works of various artists, which hang in the lobby art gallery

Theater District Parking

No updates this month.

Wortham Theater Center

During the month of June, 18,960 guests enjoyed 23 events hosted at the Wortham Theater Center.
Those events included:  the Houston Ballet’s The Tempest and La Bayadere; and Al Wash presented Bayou City Jazz Series: Rick Braun & Richard Elliot.  Spring Dance Recitals included annual productions of Cookie Joe’s Dancin’ School and Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance.  The City of Houston Public Works & Engineering held their annual PWE Director’s Employee Service Awards Luncheon.

 

Convention Facilities

George R. Brown/Avenida Houston Plaza

GRB exterior night tightThe George R. Brown Convention Center hosted the 37th Annual International Liquid Terminals Association, Pri-Med Southwest, Texas Association for School Nutrition, Valve World Americas Expo & Conference, Texas Black Expo, EquipoVision Texas and the National Athletic Trainers Association in the month of June with an estimated attendance of 43,275.

In July, we are pleased to receive the High Caliber Gun Show, Tiger-Rock Martial Arts World Championship, Bridal Extravaganza, Texas Parent Teacher Association, Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas Association of Sports Officials.  

Lastly, we welcome the addition of Todd Holloman, Director of Convention Services, to the GRB team.

Sustainability

Creating a Sustainable Environment at Houston First

Everyone can do her part to ensure we have a healthy environment at Houston First. To help us minimize our impact on the environment, we encourage our visitors and exhibitors to help improve our sustainable efforts by committing to being good stewards when they visit the George R. Brown Convention Center.  We ask our exhibitors to assist in this commitment to sustainability by reducing, reusing and recycling materials used during events held at the GRB.

Wanda Adams, Sustainability Manager, has engaged the Convention Managers to work with exhibitors through pre-event meetings, and we are creating community partnerships to increase our green meeting message.

GRB Sustainability

Sustainability Tip of the Month:  How to Remove Odors Naturally

The first step in knowing how to remove odors is to know how to prevent them. Remember, odors are caused by bacteria, and bacteria needs damp, dark places to grow. So a big part of removing odor is to remove habits that cause odor. Remembering to take out the trash, hang towels on bars to keep them off the floor, dry wet items on a line before throwing them in the hamper, are some more obvious examples. Also look for areas where moisture may collect and fix any leaks or condensation you might find, such as under sinks, and don’t forget to hang your bathroom rugs after showering.

Use Baking Soda: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Stick a bowl of it in your fridge to eliminate odor; sprinkle it in work boots; add it to your hot soapy water, while cleaning the trash can; soak items in hot water with baking soda; or sprinkle it on the carpet an hour or so before vacuuming (you can even put it down after vacuuming since it won't hurt the carpet).

Use White Vinegar: Vinegar naturally neutralizes bacteria that cause odor; so any cleaning should be done with vinegar added to the mix.

Air It Out: Hang blankets from your clothesline, set smelly shoes outside, or open the windows to bring fresh, clean air into your home.

Avenida Parking

We happily report that the installation of new parking equipment for Avenida Central Garage is completed.

In June, visitors, events and meetings at the GRB utilized 60,737 parking spaces:  Avenida Central Garage:  8,220 cars; Avenida South Garage: 21,357 cars; Avenida North Garage: 25,005 cars; and Tundra Garage:  6,155 cars.

Additionally, the National Athletic Trainers Association utilized the South transit center for event drop-off and pick-up.

 

SERVICES

Sales

In June, the sales department confirmed more than 95,000 definite room nights for future years, while continuing to pursue new meeting and event opportunities for our city.

The citywide team generated over 260,000 possible room nights with conferences, utilizing one of our convention facilities, while the non-citywide team added over 111,000 tentative room nights for conventions for future years for future years. 

Additionally, members of the sales team attended the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress and FIEXPO Latin America which featured meeting executives that plan significant meetings in the corporate, association and specialty markets.   

Client Services

Client Services conducted six planning site visits for upcoming conventions: Institute for Supply Management (April 2019), Congress of Neurological Surgeons (October 2018), Insight User Conference (September 2018), Progressive National Baptist Convention (August 2017), American Wind Energy Association (May 2019) and ELCA (June 2018).

Client Services travelled to Anaheim, California, to preview new details of IDDBA (tentative June 2021) and Atlanta, Georgia, for preliminary view of Rotary International (June 2022).

Event Services

Events Services assisted with three events in June:  Marriott Masters - Visit Houston reception, June 1, Mayor's Pension Reform event, June 1, and the Visit Houston Customer Advisory and Innovation Board Meeting, June 26-28.

Corporate Culture

Lunch & Learn Memorial Park2

Corporate Culture assisted with two events in June:  A Lunch and Learn to review the Memorial Park Master Plan on June 13, and a Lunch and Learn to discuss LGBT Heritage Month on June 30.

    Lunch & Learn Memorial Park1
 
 

 

 

 

General Counsel

In June, General Counsel was pleased to welcome a summer intern. Jasmine Jordan is a third year law student at Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He assists with a broad range of tasks, including policy and contract drafting, legal research and writing, and attending corporate meetings.

General Counsel continues to work hard to ensure the enforcement of all laws that govern the public procurement process for the purchase of quality goods and services at HFC. In addition to the Audio-Visual and Rigging Services solicitation, General Counsel is currently preparing a solicitation for Solid Waste Container and Recycling Services that will be issued this fall.

Tourism 

Houston Marketplace
The Houston Marketplace has added six new partners to its list of curated travel experiences in Houston. The new experiences are: Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Children’s Museum, Czech Center, Health Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This program, available at VisitHouston.com, allows visitors and locals to create their own experiences and itinerary based on their preferences, time and budget. https://shop.visithouston.com

                                  Tourism pic1

Ongoing Local Initiatives:

  • Marketing Matching Grants – launching 3rd year of annual program in July.
  • New Visitor Center at Hobby Airport –scheduled to open in the fall.
  • Visit Houston and Beyond – revamped presence on Visit Houston website.

Tourism Sales and Marketing:

  •   IPW 2017 Washington DC
    • Tourism participated in the annual IPW trade show along with local  partners. IPW 2017 is the largest trade show for international travel to the U.S. and this year hosted more than 6,500 delegates from more than 70 countries. IPW 2017 was held for the first time in Washington DC.
  •   Mayor Turner Visit to Israel
    • Tourism Vice President Jorge Franz  was part of the Houston delegation traveling with Mayor Sylvester Turner to Israel.
  •   TTIA College:  Jessika Alexander, Certified Tourism Executive
    • After three years of attending TTIA College courses, Jessika has received her designation as Certified Tourism Executive. Congratulations!
  • International PR:
    • International PR hosted Media FAMs for a group of travel publications from Brazil; a writer from Le Guide Vert Michelin in France; and a journalist from M2 Magazine in New Zealand.
    • International publicity value for June: $544,645; Total worldwide impressions: 6.2 million.
Membership

The membership team successfully launched the Simpleview upgrade of Extranet 4.0, and held four member training sessions.

New members in June were: The French Corner Catering and Restaurant, Houston Asian Heritage Tour, Islamic Da'wah Center, Luna Y Sol Mexican Grill, LLC, Eureka Heights Brew Co., Sumara Hospitality Group Inc., Paradise Reef Restaurant, Lighthouse Bar & Bistro, Simpleview, Inc., Chinese Community Center, AVmedia Inc., Terranea Inbound Travel, LLC, Abilities Unlimited, Inc., Worldpay US, Inc., Pierce Ranch House, Café in the Park, Shearn's Seafood & Prime Steaks, Shearn's Lounge, BLiNC by Bambi Lynn, Formula Racing Center, Hines Center.

Corporate Affairs

The Houston First community relations team along with board members, stakeholders and Houston First staff, participated in the following community investment events during the month of June:

  • Houston First Arcy Munoz with Dr. Laura Murillo, CEO, HHCCWomen Business Enterprise Alliance  Expo & Luncheon
  • Houston Area Urban League Gala
  • Hotel Lodging Association of  Greater Houston Annual Golf Tournament  
  • Hotel Lodging Association of Greater Houston Monthly Luncheon
  • International Association of Business Communicators Houston Bronze Quill Gala
  • Career and Recovery Resources, Inc., Barrier Breaker Award Luncheon
  • Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Women’s Expo & Luncheon
Public Affairs    

No updates this month.  

Marketing and Communications

In June, Visit Houston's network of websites generated nearly 500,000 visits. Media value was $1.2 million with an audience of over 15 million people nationally.

Several stories ran as a result of public relations pitches and activity including leisure pieces in Raw Travel, Conde Nast Traveler’s, Voice of America, The Street, The National Post, KTRH, Andrew Harper, Houston Life, Houston Press, KHOU: Great Day Houston, Travel + Leisure, Houstonia Magazine, KFDM, Just Luxe, and Silverkris. Additional coverage on Houston First Corp. initiatives and meetings included Smart Meetings (print version here), Meetings Today, Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, KUHT here and here, and Trade Show News Network.

In partnership with KHOU’s Great Day Houston, the marketing department’s Pack Your Bag Challenge is in full swing for summer staycation promotions. In June, segments aired at City Centre, Memorial Park, Emancipation Park, MarqE and Willow Waterhole.

Lastly, the team conducted five interviews promoting Houston and hosted three journalists who visited Houston including freelancers with Sunset magazine, Mommy Snippets and Whatever You Are.

Film Commission

In June, Houston hosted 21 film and video productions resulting in 134 filming days with direct expenditures of $1.85 million and an economic impact of more than $5,565,000.

These projects include:
Commercials: Chase Banking, Mercedes, Adidas, Methodist Hospital
Television Series/Cable Series: Metal 1, Vet Life, Little Couple, My 600 Lb. Life, Sweet Times, Man Vs. Food, Miss Wildcard                                      
Feature Films: Sanitatem

The Houston Film Commission hosted the following marketing events:

Film Spago Brunch2
  • Filmmaker reception during ATX Austin Television Festival in Austin, TX; 76 industry professionals in attendance.
  • "Film Texas" Brunch at Spago in Los Angeles, CA; 218 filmmakers and industry professionals in attendance.
  • Houston Film Commission's Texas Filmmakers Showcase presented at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, CA; 105 filmmakers and industry professionals in attendance.
Film-Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Regional Product Development

Freeway corridor enhancements - Installations to enhance eight bridge fence crossings over I-69 from Tuam Street to Bell Street is complete! The enhancements consist of weaving colorful strips of high-density vinyl into the existing chain link fences. The strips are pre-printed with color on both sides and depict pixilated images based on photographs by children compiled as part of the publication “In the eyes of Our Children: Houston, an American City”. Enjoy the time-lapse video here. (video credit: Nick de la Torre)

Jones Plaza – The programming work for re-imagining Jones Plaza is complete. The architectural design team selection is expected to commence in July.  

A new attraction for Houston – Work continues on a market analysis and feasibility study for a new iconic attraction for Houston. A working group has been formed and meetings with the group, various leaders (including Mayor Turner), and existing attraction operators are being held.

Potential public market – Exploration of potential sites for the establishment of a public market continues with a focus on East Downtown.

Airport corridor enhancements – As part of our efforts to enhance and better maintain our region’s freeway corridors, Houston First has convened a group of 15 stakeholders who are diligently working on beautification and enhanced maintenance along "airport corridors." Discussions are underway with TxDOT to determine how best to implement enhanced maintenance standards.

Finance & Administration

Community Outreach / June 2017: Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum, Greater Houston Black Chamber Luncheon, Women’s Business Enterprise EXPO, Airport Minority Advisory Council EXPO, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council SDAC Meeting, Houston Area Urban League, Interagency Mentor Protégé Program, Houston Hispanic Chamber Business EXPO.

Technical Outreach / June 2017: BVI Supplier, West Sanitation, C+A Global, Design Workshop, A2 Studio Architects, AMB Architects, Abel Design Group LTD, E-Studio, FS Group, Smith & Co. Architects, Montgomery Roth Architecture, LH2 Architecture, Gensler,
AMB Architects, STOA Architects.

The full financial management and accountability report can be found here.

Information Technology

The IT Department completed quarterly updates to HFC servers as part of the maintenance schedule. 

New Help Desk functionality was presented at the June IT User Group meeting, which provided a brief summary of the functionalities implemented. Training will be provided for each department on the new functionality during July and August. The purpose for upgrading the functionality is to ensure IT continues to elevate services provided to the user community, and to better monitor client requests and provide metrics/reporting on services rendered.

The following projects are planned to be completed in July:

  • Anti-virus software upgrade
  • Continuous review and assurance of the new Citrix Upgrade
  • Maintenance of Active Directory to assure the Global Address Book is maintained.
  • Unitrends Disaster Recovery to the Cloud Replication
  • Ungerboeck upgrade to version 20.9

 

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