For the past three years, the Greater Houston CVB has broken sales records for room night bookings, and 2018 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year. The success is in part thanks to Avenida Houston, Houston’s convention campus, which includes George R. Brown Convention Center and the attached Hilton and Marriott convention center hotels. Avenida Houston also has restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues, plus a 12-acre park. The remainder of the convention campus renovation and expansion should be completed by the end of 2018.
The new campus “is appealing to a lot of meeting planners who [plan events that] are citywide in nature,” says John Solis, senior vice president of sales for the CVB. “It gives them another destination in this part of the country.”
The addition of the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston and other nearby hotels has also helped, he adds. And Houston has hosted high-profile sporting events, including the 2017 Super Bowl.
The sales team booked 429 conventions and meetings in 2017, representing 802,852 room nights—up from 765,401 room nights in 2016. Some bookings in 2017 include the American Dental Association, the National Association of Realtors and the American Society for Microbiology.
“We had such a phenomenal year,” he says, “and that has continued into 2018. I think it was a direct result of tweaking a couple of areas that needed to be addressed. We’ve greatly increased our housing package in downtown Houston. We’ve added evening attractions, restaurant options and nightlife, which was suggested in the past two to three years.”
While not in downtown Houston and part of the convention campus, The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston opened March 6, adding 250 rooms to the city.
The Post Oak will certainly benefit from some citywides that push compression farther from the convention campus, says General Manager Jorge Gonzalez, but the hotel also plans to target association and corporate board meetings that might happen as part of citywide conventions.
The Post Oak also plans to target the automobile industry because it has facilities to get automobiles in and out of the building, he says.
Automobile launches, for example, can last up to four weeks. It’s when auto executives bring new vehicles and invite different groups, from investors to media, to learn about the new products, Gonzalez says. The motorcycle industry does the same thing, he adds.
“This is not just a single event,” Gonzalez says. “This is international and domestic, so it can last for weeks as various people come in.”
The hotel has 20 executive suites, a 12,000-sq.-ft. spa and several restaurants, and it recently garnered Houston’s only AAA Five Diamond rating.
“Houston hasn’t seen a true luxury property since the Four Seasons opened several years ago,” Gonzalez says. “Houston has been waiting for it.”