Houston Sets New Convention Sales Record for Third Straight Year
2017 was a good year for convention sales in the City of Houston, as Houston First Corporation recently announced that the City of Houston experienced another record-setting year.
“Our city is experiencing the return on investments in our convention district,” said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation. “More conventions and hotel room nights result in more jobs and an overall positive economic impact on Houston. Our sales, events and services teams are to be commended for their tireless work to grow and strengthen Houston’s convention and meeting business.”
In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau aligned their operations to provide a single clear voice for the city under the brand “Visit Houston” and they are responsible for bringing conventions and tourism to the city.
For the third straight year, Houston First announced that an unprecedented number of room nights tied to future conventions were booked in 2017. The sales team booked 429 conventions and meetings in 2017, representing 802,852 room nights, up from 765,401 room nights in 2016. Many of the citywide conventions secured in 2017 were first time bookings, thanks in large part to recent improvements that further showcase Houston as a world class destination.
“When you consider where we were three years ago, the upward trend in room nights is even more impressive,” said Ullrich. “Our sales team’s production jumped from 550,000 room nights in 2014 to more than 800,000, a 41 percent increase, surpassing our 2017 goal by more than fifty thousand room nights.”
The 2017 numbers were bolstered by a highly successful Super Bowl LI, renovation of the George R. Brown Convention Center, activation of Avenida Houston (downtown’s newest pedestrian-friendly entertainment district), along with new restaurants and hotels including the 1000-room Marriott Marquis, which complements the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston, both of which are connected to the GRB. Having two headquarter hotels, along with the boldly redesigned, walkable entertainment district provide the sales team with a much more attractive package to better compete with other cities for convention business.
“Our sales team made at least 175 sales calls, hosted industry events, welcomed prospective clients for site visits, most considering meeting in Houston for the first time, so we are thrilled that our global profile as a destination is gaining traction and we expect even more big wins in the future,” said Mike Waterman, executive vice president of Houston First.
In addition to record convention sales, the organization’s website network, led by VisitHouston.com, logged 7.8 million visitors in 2017, up from 7.4 million in 2016. Global attention because of the Super Bowl combined with strategic marketing and public relations efforts resulted in more than 140 interviews and 434 positive articles, both domestic and international about Houston as a destination.
“Considering the devastating impact Hurricane Harvey had on our city, the accomplishments of our sales team in 2017 are even more remarkable. But we are not stopping, we are looking ahead as we capitalize on this momentum of success to continue driving meeting and tourism business to Houston,” said Ullrich. “Through the collective efforts of our awesome team, we will continue to grow visitation to our city, letting everyone know Houston is not only a great place to live, work and play in, but also to visit for business or pleasure.”
In addition to owning the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, Houston First also manages 11 city-owned buildings, plazas and parking facilities. Properties include the George R. Brown Convention Center, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Wortham Center and Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. For more information, log on to HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.