Houston Boasts a Record-Breaking 2017 Convention Year
Hurricane Harvey may cause 2017 to go down in history as a tumultuous year for the City of Houston, but that didn’t stop the city from coming back strong while setting another record in convention sales.
For the third straight year, an unprecedented number of room nights tied to future conventions were booked in 2017, according to Visit Houston officials, whose sales team locked down 429 conventions and meetings representing 802,852 room nights, up from 765,401 room nights in 2016.
“Our city is experiencing the return on investments in our convention district,” said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First, which operates in partnership with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau under the brand name “Visit Houston,” a partnership responsible for bringing conventions and tourism to the city.
She continued, “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.”
Key bookings in 2017 include the American Dental Association in 2022 and National Association of Realtors in 2025. Many of the citywide conventions secured in 2017 are first-time bookings.
The strong uptick in bookings can be attributed to recent improvements the city has made in an effort to showcase Houston as a top convention destination, including the renovation of the George R. Brown Convention Center; new restaurants and hotels, including the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis that complements the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston, both of which are connected to the GRB, and activation of Avenida Houston, the city’s newest pedestrian-friendly downtown entertainment district.
Having two headquarter hotels, along with the redesigned walkable entertainment district, helps provide the city’s sales team with a more attractive package to better compete with other cities for convention business, according to Visit Houston officials.
“When you consider where we were three years ago, the upward trend in room nights is even more impressive,” said Mike Waterman, president of Visit Houston.
He continued, “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. Houston has spent the last several years improving our infrastructure to compete on a global scale. We are thrilled that our global profile as a destination is being solidified and we expect this positive momentum to continue to build.”
Looking ahead, Waterman expects 2018 to be another robust year for Houston’s convention business.
“Visit Houston’s group pace for 2018 is up 10 percent over last year with the Super Bowl in 2017 numbers (and) 2018 is shaping up to be one of the strongest group years we have ever had,” Waterman explained.
He added, “Our new convention product, Avenida Houston, with the completion of the George R. Brown Convention Center renovation and the addition of the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston is a compelling solution for meeting planners across the globe.”