Conventions and conferences are currency to the cities that host them. Knowing how you stack up to competitors can be valuable information.
"When you look at conventions and meetings—they can bring a lot of people to the destination at one time, fill up all the hotels and restaurants," said Jason Draper, assistant professor at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. "When they're not in meetings or on the trade show floor, they are in the restaurants, being entertained. There is a significant impact, and it's a very competitive side of the tourismindustry."
Draper teaches classes in tourism and event administration and statistics. A recent project brought industry leaders together with students to study some of Houston's competitors.
"We looked at nine of their primary competitors for city-wide conventions," he said. "We looked at airport traffic, number of hotel rooms in different geographic areas, restaurants, entertainment, performing arts. We looked at average cab fare, the size of convention centers, and compared all those and more attributes."
The study has very real world implications, allowing a city to improve its competitiveness or leverage its advantages. It also mirrors what the students will be doing as professional meeting planners for a city convention and visitors bureau, corporation or association.
"They're the people who are going to follow the current leaders in this industry, so getting this experience early on in their career is what's important."
Jason Draper is part of what's happening at the University of Houston.