If your group likes meeting downtown, Texas has a plethora of cities that fit the bill. Choose the fabulous music scene in Austin (above), the diverse spread of Houston, the western-style appeal of El Paso or the welcoming towns to the north.
In July, the Austin City Council approved a $4.3 million fee-waiver package to encourage the construction of a 1,003-room Marriott Marquis two blocks from the Austin Convention Center. The developer, White Lodging Services Corp., said construction will begin June 1, 2012, with completion set for January 2015. Meanwhile, Manchester Texas Financial Group announced plans to build a 1,035-room hotel east of the convention center; that project is estimated to cost $350 million.
The Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering to manage customized social media campaigns for large events that come to the city. Working with Sparkloft Media, the CVB tested the program with the Biomedical Engineering Society, which came to town in October 2010, and the experiment was deemed successful enough to proceed with the program.
Among the Texas capital city's properties are the 800-room Hilton Austin, 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, 478-room Renaissance Austin Hotel, 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown, 375-room Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, 340-room Westin Austin, 312-room Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, 312-room Barton Creek Resort and Spa, and 251-room W Austin Hotel. For more options, visit mcvenues.com.
Austin Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 246,097 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 54; (512) 404-4000
Airport Transit Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $20; by shuttle, $14
Room tax, 9%; sales tax, 8.25%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15%
Split into three floors, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum explores the genesis of the Lone Star State from all angles in a stirring series of exhibits. On the top floor, new meeting space has been carved out, offering views of downtown and the capitol building. The 8,000-square-foot room holds up to 400 for a dinner. (512) 936-8746; thestoryoftexas.com
Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 926-2282; austintexas.org