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Select Travel Days

Leadership Update


Aloft blog5 New Hotels to Open Downtown in 2016

Houston has a lot to look forward to in 2016. With events like the NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament and preparations for Super Bowl LI, the city is poised to receive global attention.

Downtown Houston especially has grown with projects ranging from office space, residential and retail. The increase in downtown activity has also prompted more demand for hotels.

Here are five hotels coming to Downtown Houston in 2016.


Enterprise Development
Partnerships & Events

Progress continues on the reorganization of the Comicpalooza staff and volunteer structure following the GHCVB’s increased investment and assumption of greater business operations responsibilities. The event will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in June 2016.

Visitors Center

The Visitors Center has generated record sales following its relocation to Avenida de las Americas. Gross sales were $102,422, a 54% increase from 2015.


No update this month.


Retail Opportunities on Avenida de las Americas: Draft leases have been sent to three concepts with remaining drafts going out in the near term.

City Hall North Wing: Construction is complete for the Legacy Room and is now being used by City officials.


Cultural Facilities
Sales and Marketing

The following shows were booked in the month of January:

  1. TransCanada: Rodeo Round-Up – March 8, 2016, Jones Plaza
  2. National Association of Basketball Coaches: Guardians of the Game Awards Show – April 2, 2016, Wortham Center (a Final Four-related event)
  3. Mucky Duck: Hayes Carl – April 14, 2016, Wortham Center
  4. Indo-American Association: The Flowering Tree – April 15, 2016, Wortham Center
  5. American Lebanese Cultural Center: Houston Lebanese Festival – April 8-10, 2016, Jones Plaza
  6. Houston Mega Group: Houston Zydeco Festival – April 30, 2016, Jones Plaza
  7. Indo-American Association: Hariharan & Zakir Hussain in Hazir – May 14, 2016, Wortham Center
Theater District Parking

No update this month.

Sunset Coffee Building

Construction of the Sunset Coffee Building is expected to be complete by the end of March 2016, at which time Houston First will take ownership. The building is expected to be fully open and operational in July 2016.

Sunset Marketing

Houston First Outdoors

The Greater Houston Community Foundation hosted a public celebration on January 20, 2016 to unveil the Mosbacher monuments and the renaming of the Preston Street Bridge to the Mosbacher Bridge, in honor of Robert A. Mosbacher Sr. Among the many guests in attendance were George H.W. and Barbara Bush, James A. and Susan Baker III and members of the Mosbacher family.  

Houston First Outdoors Unveiling  Houston First Outdoors

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Miller Outdoor Theatre's counter weight system renovations are 80% complete. All head blocks, sheaves and arbors have been installed. Cabling from the arbors to the system pipes are currently being installed (as pictured below).

Miller Outdoor

Jones Hall

Jones Hall hosted a total of 31,153 arts patrons (including 3,000 attendees for the Inauguration on Jan. 4, 2016) at 25 performances.

The Symphony announced their 2016-2017 season, of which the Blue Man Group has been a popular and successful draw for the SPA.

Plans for Jones Hall's 50th Anniversary celebration continue. Steven Fenberg has been hired by the Jones Foundation to act as Creative Director for print and video materials germane to the event including brochure copy, website creation, and a brief documentary. Studio Red will take the lead on aesthetic enhancements at Jones Hall, planned by Houston First, including new lighting, tables and chairs in the Louisiana Lobby and Encore Café, as well as replacing the solid walls with glass walls in the lower lobby. The gala is tentatively scheduled for October 22, 2016.

Wortham Theater Center

Wortham Theater Center hosted 15,668 patrons at 17 events during January. A few of the most popular events included:

  • 2016 New Year’s Eve Event held in both Brown and Cullen theaters and outside across the Theater District
  • YMCA Holiday Breakfast Celebration of Martin Luther King Day
  • Texas Business Travel Association luncheon
  • Imprint presented Anthony Doerr, 2014 Pulitzer Prize Fiction winner for his 2014 "All the Light We Cannot See"
  • The University of Houston Moore’s School of Music Annual Gala
  • The Houston Grand Opera presented two showings of Opera’s Marriage of Figaro and Rusalka
Talento Bilingue de Houston
  • Fernando Moguel and Odnan Arts star in the variety show  Pedro Infante, La Leyenda. A capacity crowd attended the January show.
  • Los Envivo King concert; TBH continues to promote local Houston musicians
  • Elevate Church continues to conduct weekly Sunday services


Convention Facilities
George R. Brown Convention Center

The George R. Brown (GRB) team manages facility operations, parking operations and event and guest services.  The following is a summary of activity within these three areas:

A total of four major conventions were held at the GRB during the month of January including Chinese Mission Conference, Passion Conference, Handy Hardware and National Title 1 Conference.

There were 16 non-convention events at the GRB which brought a total of 151,537 attendees. Events included Discover the Dinosaurs, Bridal Extravaganza, Greater Houston Dental, GHP Annual Meeting, LEGO Fan Festival and the Black Heritage Gala.

Parking continues to be an important business sector at the GRB. In January, the Houston Marathon brought more visitors to the district than any other event and race participants and supporters were the largest event utilizing the convention district parking.

Construction Status

Construction inside the GRB continues to move forward. The ground-floor concourse is 50% complete. Work on the new façade and grand entry also remains on target for completion at the end of 3rd Quarter 2016. Construction continues on the sky bridges to the new Marriott Marquis and Partnership Tower.

Outside, work on the pedestrian plaza and the new north transit center also remains on schedule. Pavers at Entrance E are currently being installed and will be ready in time for the NCAA Final Four. Additionally, storm drains are being installed on Avenida in the curb lane of Discovery Green.

GRB Construction pavers GRB Construction skybridge




Destination Sales

The citywide team generated over 141,000 tentative room nights for future years. The Anita Borg Institute will return to Houston in 2016 and 2018 bringing over 14,000 attendees each year.

The non-citywide team secured 18,286 definite room nights for conventions while adding another 89,600 tentative room night opportunities.

The international team generated over 45,084 tentative room nights for future years. Also, the team confirmed over 10,550 definite room nights for future years including the 2016 Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods.

In collaboration with hospitality partners from the Houston area, the sales staff recently participated in one of the premier events for Texas Association executives -- Southwest Showcase -- in Austin. Additionally, members of the sales team attended the Professional Convention Management Association Annual Meeting in Vancouver as well as the International Congress and Convention and Association client event to promote Houston as a meeting and convention destination.


Destination Services

The Destination Services team along with the GRB guest services team conducted planning site visits in January for upcoming conventions including: True Value Spring Reunion (2/16); CED ICW Rockwell Automation (11/17); ACPA- College Student Educators International (3/18); Southern Gas Association (7/16); Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (7/18) and NCAA Final Four (4/16).

In preparation for upcoming conventions, the team traveled to Phoenix for Society of Thoracic Surgeons (1/17) to promote attendance and provide insight to the Houston Experience.

The Destination Events team provided logistics and expertise for the following organizations: Professional Convention Management Association in Vancouver (Jan. 11-13); Texas Business Travel association in Houston (Jan. 13); GHCVB New Member Orientation in Houston (Jan. 13); Matching Grants Event in Houston (Jan. 21); Mayor’s Transition Team Meeting in Houston (Jan. 25) and Southwest Showcase in Austin (Jan. 28).

The Employee Engagement team coordinated a kick-off employee engagement program called Discover Your Purpose.


The Tourism team hosted the first Matching Grant Program award event on January 21, 2016 to honor recipients of the 2016 Matching Grant Program. In the inaugural year of the program, 28 applicants and 14 were awarded a total of $250,000 in grants. Each of these projects is designed to encourage the development of partnerships between attractions, the hospitality industry and other industry organizations to better promote leisure travel to the Greater Houston area through the creation of leisure packages.

2016 Grant Program

The 2017 Matching Grant Program will launch July 1, 2016. For more information, click here.

Additionally, the second Houston Tourism Summit will be held September 7, 2016 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Additional details will follow shortly.

In January, the team participated in the American Bus Association in marketing Houston to tour groups and organized site inspection visits for TourMappers, a receptive operator based in Boston selling to European travelers.

Lastly, the PR team hosted five travel publications from Mexico to cover Space Center Houston's new exhibit, Independence Plaza.  

International Media Value for January: $1,082,573; International audience: 11,738,954.

Corporate Affairs

YMCA Martin Luther King Breakfast (1/12/16), Texas Black Expo, CEO Roundtable (1/12/16), North Houston Frontiers Club Inc., Martin Luther King Breakfast (1/18/16), Black Heritage Society (1/18/16), Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum (1/26/16).

Public Affairs

No updates this month.

Marketing and Communications

During the month of January, several stories ran as a result of public relations pitches and Visit Houston activity including pieces in Travel + Leisure here and here, Forbes, Southern Living, AAA Traveler, Gogobot, Preservation Magazine, Toronto Star here and here, Edge Media, J-Vibe, CW6 in San Diego, WTVR in Richmond, Va., Vacation Idea, Next Avenue, Great Day Houston and Global Traveler USA.

Visit Houston's network of websites generated over 419,000 visits in the month of January. Media value was $1.9 million with an audience of 7.5 million people nationally.

January's video chat was conducted in partnership with Space Center Houston and featured their latest exhibit, Independence Plaza. This is part of a monthly series with Houston celebrities and attractions.

Lastly, the team hosted 2 press visits to promote Houston including media with Space.com and USA Today.

Film Commission

During the month of January, Houston hosted 16 film and video productions resulting in 60 filming days with direct expenditures of $2,017,000 and an economic impact of more than $6,051,000. Some of these projects include:

Commercials: Baylor College of Medicine, Walmart, Fidelity Bank, Methodist Hospital, FITV, and Taco Bell.

Television Series: ABC News 20/20, Bizarre Foods:Delicious Destinations, La Banda 2, Mega Shipping and My 600 lb. Life.

Feature Films: Acid Test


General Counsel

No updates this month.



New members joining the GHCVB in January included: Wyndham Garden Houston Willowbrook, Arnaldo Richards' Picos Restaurant, Great Southwest Equestrian Center, River Oaks Donuts, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Houston, Intercontinental Airport, GAGE Lounge, Escape The Pavement, Spindle Tap Brewery, Designer Diva, Business Branders, US China Professional Tours and NPO Events Center. Click here for a complete list of GHCVB members.

Finance & Administration

Community Outreach activities for January 2016 included:
National Hispanic Professional Organization Membership Meeting, North Avenida Garage Pre-Bid Conference and the Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum.

Technical Outreach activities for January 2016 included:
PV Rental Leasing Sales,Scott Development  LLC, A-Status Construction, Aztec Contractors, Genesis Cabling Solutions, Princor Financial Services Corporation, Xpanding US, MIG Steel Fabrication, DCT Imaging, Education With A Vision, LIC Construction, Innovative Solutions, Future Contracting, A Plus Business Solutions, Houston Harris Division Patrol, Inc., Money Doctor, Servpro, State Farm, Roger Dat Trucking and Quality Is Work Construction.

For the full financial management and accountability report for January, click here.


No updates this month.