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George R. Brown10 Reasons Why Houston is Perfect for Meetings

From 2013 to 2014, the Houston area gained more than 150,000 new residents. But it's not just residents flocking to Houston. Close to 15 million people, many of them meeting attendees, visited Houston in 2014.

"You could spend 365 days in our city and still not experience everything we have to offer. Showing visitors a good time is what we do," Houston Mayor Annise Parker says.

So, what makes Houston a magnet for meetings? Here are 10 reasons.

Read more here.

FACILITIES

Enterprise Development
Partnerships & Events

The SpaceCom Conference and Expo – a joint venture between Houston First, the GHCVB and NASA-Johnson Space Center - kicks off as the largest dedicated commercial space conference in the world in its inaugural year.

Medical World Americas – a joint venture between Houston First, the GHCVB and Texas Medical Center – announced world renowned innovator and inventor Dean Kamen as the headline keynote speaker for the conference in May.  Kamen is well known as the inventor of the Segway, but also has 440 patents to his name, including many medical innovations.

Over $30,000 of advertising revenue was booked and sold for VisitHouston.com and other digital properties.

 

Visitors Center

No update this month.

Cultural Facilities
Sales and Marketing

Cinema Arts Festival – Nov. 12-19 - tickets on sale, movies will be featured in 5 venues around Houston, 45 screenings.  A 20% discount will be offered to HFC employees.

Bayou City Jazz Series - Dates for 2016 performances have been announced and there will be six performances at the Wortham Theater Center, including a Valentines Day show.

Latin Christmas – Houston Latin America Philharmonic Orchestra presents their 3rd annual Latin Christmas on Dec. 3rd at the Wortham's Cullen Theater.
 

Theater District Parking

The team is currently working on the replacement of the emergency phone system, expected to be completed by the end of December.  The new system will include a built in motion surveillance camera. Additionally, METRO will install 2 LED flashing lights to announce an approaching train in the Entrance # 2.
 

Sunset Coffee Building
Construction of the Sunset Coffee Building is nearing completion. You can view current construction below:


Southwest Corner

Roof Terrace
Houston First Outdoors

No updates this month.

Miller Outdoor Theatre
A candlelight vigil: "Houston is Paris" was organized at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Nov. 14th. During the event, French and American communities gathered so show support for France during this difficult time.

Miller Outdoor Theatre will close its season on November 14th with the William Close and the Earth Harp Collective show. The Earth Harp is the largest stringed instrument on the planet. It was developed by William Close in 1999. The body of the instrument rests on the stage and the strings travel out over the audience attaching to the back of the theater, turning the theater / concert hall, architecture and landscape into the instrument.

The annual MTAB gala took place on October 24th.  It was a successful and well attended event.  HFC was represented by a couple of our board members, Desrye Morgan and C C Conner.

With the off-season approaching, the Miller team is planning to enhance the rigging system and fine tune the back of the house equipment to prepare for the next season.
 

Jones Hall

No updates this month.

Wortham Theater Center

Wortham Theater Center welcomed Fernando Cruz as the new Housekeeping Manager, joining the team from Omaha, Nebraska.

Both Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera continue with successful event openings of their new 2015-2016 Seasons.

The Houston Grand Opera celebrated their 2015-2016 Opening Night Gala October 23rd with the performance of Tosca in the Brown Theater followed with a sit down dinner Gala under a Grand Tent on Fish Plaza.

President H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush attended President Bush’s Points of Lights 25th Anniversary Tribute October 20th

The University of Houston Public Policy Department hosted a Mayoral Debate on the Cullen stage September 29th

Live Nations presented a unique event Red Bull Flying Bach November 13th – 18th of hip hop-breakdancing to classical music

This year’s shows of The Nutcracker will be the last of Ben Stephenson’s production.  Next year will be a premier of Stanton Welch’s production of The Nutcracker.  A preview of this new production will be released in February, when Houston Ballet announces its new season.

 

Convention Facilities
George R. Brown Convention Center

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

Total event attendance at the GRB in October was 88,536 and included four (4) big shows – Breakbulk Americas, Grace Hopper Celebration, Points of Light, and the International Quilt Market & Festival as well as eight (8) non-convention events that included the Consular Ball, Vape Summit and Texas Contemporary Art Fair.  

Event and Guest Services conducted three (3) site visits during the month in addition to managing each of the convention and non-convention events.  The Grace Hopper Celebration show was a particularly successful event with over 14,000 women in computing in attendance.

Event and Guest Services also received letters of commendation from the organizers of Points of Light. Event Manager Brenda Petersen received rave reviews from the client.
Convention District Parking utilized 53,238 parking spaces in October for events, shows and meetings:  Convention District Garage:  13,967; Lots 2, 4 and 8:  2,922; Hilton Garage:  30,499; and Tundra Garage:   5,850.  Additionally, Grace Hopper, International Quilt and Houston Public Library all utilized the new south transit center for event drop-off and pick-up.

 

Construction Status

Houston First is redeveloping a few big projects in the Convention District.  The following is a full discussion of these important activities in this downtown neighborhood:

Construction inside the GRB continues to move forward. The ground-floor concourse is 40% complete. The work on the new façade and grand entry also remains on target for completion in 3Q 2016. The Rusk street sky bridge to the Partnership Tower was installed on Sunday, November 8th.  The Marriott Marquis sky bridge is scheduled for installation the first weekend in December.  

Outside, work on the pedestrian plaza and the new north transit center also remains on schedule.  The traffic on Avenida will be shifted to a single lane of southbound starting Monday, November 16th so the work on the load-in lane against Discovery Green can begin.  Glass on the south section of the new Lobby C will begin during the last half of November.  

As for Partnership Tower construction, glass on the tower continues to be installed and the final section of the parking garage is being completed.

 

SERVICES

Destination Sales

The Destination Sales team focuses on building group meeting and convention business from three main areas; citywide conventions, non-citywide conferences and International Conventions.  The following is a summary of activity related to each of these divisions.

The citywide convention sales team continues to pursue new meeting and event opportunities. Lead generation for October included 7 new leads representing 86,000 potential room nights.

The non-citywide convention sales team continues to pursue new meeting and event opportunities. Lead generation for 2015 and future years included the following; 89 leads representing 85,604 potential room nights, 42 definite bookings representing 24,308 definite room nights and 5 site visits representing 5,039 potential room nights.  Highlights include 17 definite bookings totaling 2,407 room nights for 2015, 19 definite bookings totaling 12,569 room nights for 2016 and 3 definite bookings totaling 4,012 room nights for 2017.  We also booked 3 groups totaling 5,320 room nights for 2018 and beyond.

International sales generated 9 leads representing 24,568 possible room nights for future years. Houston was selected to host the ICCA Congress. This event will occur in 2019 with expected attendance of 1,150, of which 30 percent are coming from the North America and 70+ other countries. The last time ICCA met in the US was in 1987 therefore by 2019 it will be 32 years since it last came to the US.

Additionally, the international destination sales staff participated in IMEX America and the ICCA Congress in Buenos Aires and conducted the World LNG Series: America Summit 2016 site inspection.

 

Destination Services

Destinations Services conducted planning site visits for 8 conventions including International Dairy Deli Bakery Association and Final Four. In addition, the team participated in promotional attendance trip for Texas Association of School Administrators and School Boards and attended the Lanyon Passkey Annual Users Conference.

Destination Events provided support for Tourism and Sales; Tourism’s Matching Grants Seminar, IMEX America; and Toastmaster’s Anniversary and HUE Mural Festival VIP Reception.  

Employee Engagement supported HUE Festival Employee Tour as well as Halloween treats to HFC employees.

 

Tourism

In the month of October, the Tourism Department continued the promotion of Houston as a leisure destination in top markets around the world, with the following activities:

Asia: The Tourism team conducted a tourism seminar for BestWay travel agency and trained 20 travel agents in Taipei, Taiwan. BestWay Travel welcomes two groups to Houston for November and two groups in December. Tourism conducted a sales mission making travel trade and media calls in Taipei, Taiwan and Beijing, China including meetings with EVA AIR in Taiwan and Air China in China.

Here in Houston the team hosted a Media FAM for City Insights Travel Communication Platform, a multimedia unit operated by Wisdom United (China/the US). The editorial team is planning a special 10-page feature on Houston (print and online). Circulation: 300,000.

The team also hosted a familiarization trip for 9 travel agents from Manila, Philippines in a joint project with EVA Airlines.

Europe: Tourism participated in the Brand USA Halloween Travel Agent Event in Frankfurt, Germany and did presentations to a total of 150 travel agents and tour operators.

In addition, the team hosted a group of 12 corporate travel agents booking MICE and Leisure travel to the States from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The team also hosted a familiarization trip for four Travel Tourism Marketing representatives from the UK.

Two Tourism team members attended World Travel Market in London, where they met with travel trade and media representatives.

Lastly, Houston hosted a media visit by two journalists from London, writing a double-spread for Woman Magazine UK. (Circulation: 250,000)

Latin America: Tourism assisted Travel agent FAM visits from Guadalajara, Mexico and San Jose, Costa Rica, with United Airlines.

The team hosted a familiarization trip for Texas Tourism PR representatives from Brazil.

Lastly, the team hosted a familiarization trip with United Airlines for six journalists and two escorts from Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru.

North America: Tourism PR participated in Discover America Day in Toronto, Canada where meetings were held one-one-one with 13 journalists to promote Houston as a travel destination.

Also in Toronto, the team participated in the Uniglobe Travel Conference Eastern Canada, attended by approximately 100 travel agents who received Houston information.

International Media Value for October: $ 326,118; International audience: 4,680,128.
 

Public Affairs

During October, the Public Affairs Department led two successful trial runs of the newly formed Houston First crisis response team. Team members coordinated their efforts during the heavy rains over the weekends of October 24 and 31. The team also conducted informational meetings with City candidates for elective office.

In addition, the team held meetings with the chairs of all three GHCVB task forces including The Promise, Infrastructure and Connectivity task forces.

Lastly, the team received and reviewed the state legislative House and Senate interim commission charges.

 

Marketing and Communications

During the month of October, several stories ran as a result of public relations pitches and GHCVB activity including pieces in Bon Appetit, The Los Angeles Times, KPRCUSA Today, The Lafayette Advertiser, Poughkeepsie Journal,Houston Lifestyles magazine, Smart Meetings,Realty News Report, The Chronicle Preview, Chron.com, The Global Traveler, Paper City Magazine, Houston Public Media, NewsFix, Culturemap, BOOM92FM, Your Houston News, Houston Lifestyles & Homes and KTRK.

The GHCVB's network of websites generated over 465,000 visits in the month of October. Media Value was $2.7 Million with an audience of 337 million people nationally.

In addition, the Public Relations team hosted two media events in NYC attended by a wide variety of leisure travel writers. The first, Houston on Houston, featured Houston Chefs Justin Yu of Oxheart and Chris Williams of Lucille’s. Each chef prepared alternate courses indicative of their distinctive take on Houston cuisine. Houston acoustic band, Say Girl Say, performed live at the end of the evening. The event was attended by 10 top tier writers, including the publications USA Today, Food & Wine, Sherman’s Travel, Family Circle, Budget Travel, Luxury Travel, Business Insider and The Atlantic. In addition, the team hosted a pre-concert cocktail event for the Texas Takeover party during the CMJ Music Festival, followed by the Takeover event itself at the Delancey concert venue featuring 6 Houston artists/groups and others throughout Texas. Media in attendance included Yahoo Travel, Spin Magazine, Shape magazine, Billboard, Avenue, CBS, Style Music TV and Scene Magazine.

The Marketing team is currently running a "Houston Getaway" contest in conjunction with Southwest Airlines and JW Marriott. Thus far, the contest has generated more than 4,500 unique visitors to the website, 1,000 social media shares and 536 entries for the contest.

Lastly, the team hosted four press visits to promote Houston including media with Meetings + Conventions, BizBash, Virgin Atlantic, Points North Magazine and the Cultureur.

Film Commission

During the month of October 2015 Houston hosted 23 film and video productions resulting in 97 filming days with direct expenditures of $1,752,000 and an economic impact of more than $5,256,000.  Some of these projects include:

Commercials: Adidas, Regions Bank, MLB preseason, Audi, Christus Hospital, Cigna, Hoegaarden Brewery and Volvo.

Television Series: Surviving Space, Food Paradise and Cha Chi’s World
Feature Films: Pizza Joint, Urban Cowboy, Avalanche and Burn.

The Houston Film Commission hosted the opening Filmmakers Brunch during the Dallas Video Festival and the Film Texas BBQ during the Austin Film Festival.  HFC continues its short film screening program for Houston based filmmakers, “First Thursday” at Brazil.

 

Membership

New members joining the GHCVB in October included: Southern Sound and Lighting, Richard Brown Music, Jonathan's The Rub, Little Woodrow's -  Midtown, Little Woodrow's - Rice Village, Little Woodrow's - EaDo, Courtyard by Marriott, Houston NASA Clear Lake, Little Woodrow's - Shepherd, Pax Americana, Marketability, Inc., Courtyard by Marriott Houston North Shenandoah, Obsidian Theater, Queensbury Theatre, Calabash Island Eats, Eyecue Audio Visual, Little Woodrow's - Belliare and Little Woodrow's - Heights. Click here for a complete list of GHCVB members.

Finance & Administration

Community outreach for the month of October included: East End Chamber of Commerce (Oct. 1), National Hispanic Professional Organization (Oct. 7), Houston Area Urban League Small Business University Forum (Oct. 8), City of Houston Consular Ball (Oct. 10), Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (Oct. 15), Greater Houston Black Chamber 21st Annual Pinnacle Awards (Oct. 15), Talento Bilingue de Houston Annual Gala Hola Awards (Oct. 15), Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum (Oct. 20), Success In Business (Oct. 21), Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (Oct. 22), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business (Oct. 27), Trac-PAC Organization Meeting 10/27/15, NAACP (Oct. 30).

Companies which provided technical outreach in the month of October included: Empire Construction, Office Evolutions, Environmental, Inc., Brian Smith Construction Inc. (BSCI), BOCCI Engineering & Construction, Synergy Management Solutions, BVI Resources, Picture Worth Custom Framing, A’s Sparkle, BBG Services, CK Artworks Unlimited, LLC, Couture Lifestyle Magazine, Law Office of Victor D. Walker, SCMU Construction Management Services, Conference Technologies, Inc., Montgomery Heavy Equipment Rental and Sales, Scott Development, LLC, McCrory Engineering, Je Pa Services, Inc., Jordan Painting, Superior Management, Organic Sweet Shoppe, Hallmark Industrial Supply, Lane Staffing, The Document Group (TDG), Bandos Steel, CST Corporation, AR Commercial, TLC Engineering, Inc., First Genesis, Hotel Makeover and Facilities Interiors.

IT

No updates this month.

 

 

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