Outgoing chairman Doug Horn has run day-to-day operations at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau since the resignation of Jordy Tollett in late December. Horn says he's most proud of how the city seems to be coming together.
"The fact that the Partnership, the Houston Arts Alliance, the Downtown Management District--everyone is working collectively now to promote Houstonworking for everybody else's interests. The goal has always been to be able to get the city to think of itself in tourism terms, to be able to make sure that they understand that we are all salesmen for the city of Houston. We're all working as the Bureau to go out and get business. We're going to be looking for major corporations that come here that are the kind of dollars that we want to bring in here that expend money in the city and enjoy the city and can take an opportunity to see what we're like and what we've got to offer."
Horn says conventions are important, but so is tourism.
"Conventions breed tourism. Tourism breeds conventions. So it's a combination of the two, and we as a city have to have a community attitude that we are now going to project the best image."
An executive search for a new president continues, but with Horn leaving as chairman, board member Thomas Jones is stepping in. And he wants to start tracking tourists, as well as convention-goers, in order to better attract visitors.
"We've done an excellent job of tracking conventioneers that come to the city. What we've not done in the past is doing as effective job of tracking the number of visitors that are non-convention--or tourists--to the city. And so that's one of the things that we'll be doing, to help us better track and monitor that, (it) will give us an idea on where we need to focus our efforts and our advertising and our messaging in order to bring in more tourists to the city."
Jones says he would like to see downtown Houston's hotel inventory increase during his tenure as chairman.
"To see if we can get us another Hilton-like hotel downtown. We've got to increase our inventory of hotel rooms in and around the George R. Brown. Right now we're a little over 4,000 rooms. We really need to be over 5,000 rooms in order for us to compete for larger conventions." Ed: "Is it an attrative offer, you think, for some big hotel chain to add a thousand rooms here?" "Well, I think you've got to put the right package together. As you well know, the Hilton was built with a combination of public and private funds. I think that same type of concept is going have to come to play."
Meeting planners hold a convention next February in Houston that could prompt them to book groups they represent. Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.