Houston Boasts a Record-Breaking 2017 Convention Year

February 6, 2018

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.”


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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.