Houston First Corporation, Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau Join Forces

June 15, 2014

In Houston, they decided that one entity was better than two for promoting the city as a go-to convention and tourism destination. The boards of Houston First Corporation and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau have agreed to align themselves structurally.

As part of the alignment, the GHCVB’s 90-person staff will become employees of HFC, with no plans to lay off staff from either organization, according to HFC officials.

In addition, the GHCVB’s board of directors and executive committee will remain intact and will  recommend four candidates to Houston Mayor Annise Parker for inclusion on the Houston First board.

“Houston is a world-class city, and the alignment of our two great organizations will help position it for a  bright future,” said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of HFC, which operates the city-owned George R.  Brown Convention Center.

She added, “The combined efforts of both teams will continue as a major economic generator for the entire region.”

Officials of both organizations say the structure of the newly aligned organizations will encourage collaboration and a consistent, cohesive vision for the Houston product.

“The GHCVB Board of Directors is looking forward to working closely with HFC to bring this vision to  life,” said Sonia Garza-Monarchi, board chairwoman.

She added, “Our two boards have collaborated on this alignment for some time, and we feel it has great potential.”

HFC and GHCVB partnering organizations now will work with one group in the area of economic  development, tourism, convention business and the arts, which streamline the decision-making  process and create greater efficiency.

Earlier this month, the board of the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston unanimously voted  to support the proposal.

“This alignment will create the most effective sales effort Houston has ever seen - one that will serve as a model for the rest of the country to follow,” said Ric Campo, chairman of the HFC board of directors.

He added, “The team will be solely focused on the Houston pitch, and there will be more attention paid to Houston as a destination than ever before.”

The alignment news follows the May 1 resignation of the GHCVB’s president and CEO, Greg Ortale, who was at the bureau for more than 15 years during two different stints. 

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