October 01, 2016

In today's meetings market, groups are looking for much more than square footage. The convention center of the future is a destination unto itself - a place where a state-of-the-art event facility is the focal point of a lively entertainment, retail, dining and cultural district. To meet evolving industry demands, downtown Houston has been the sight of numerous cranes, fences and construction vests recently. Crews have dug deep holes, only to form new hotels, office towers and retail from their roots. The 2017 Super Bowl may be the deadline, but these projects have a long-term purpose.

For meetings, increased hotel room inventory has been the largest change. The downtown area has already added over 500 hotel rooms in 2016, with nearly 1,400 more rooms to be added by the end of the year. The George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) will add a second attached hotel. Also connected to the GRB is a conjoined office tower and parking garage that has been engineered with the structural capacity that allows for an additional boutique hotel to be built as part of that complex.

"The completion of the Marriott Marquis, scheduled for this fall, will add another 1,000 rooms directly connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center, allowing us to go after much bigger conventions than we could before," says Ric Campo, chairman of the board of Houston First. A revitalized GRB will include a full concourse level, grand entrance, and transit centers on each side of the building. An outdoor plaza will include various restaurants with the 12-acre Discovery Green urban park as the "front lawn." 

Around Houston, meeting guests will find more than 10,000 restaurants with more than 70 countries represented. Houston is also home to NASA's Johnson Space Center and many world-class museums and cultural institutions. For the sports fan, Houston's convention district sits in between Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center and BBVA Compass Stadium. Football fans have access to NRG Park through the light rail running from Main Street, with alternate rails running from the Theater District to the University of Houston and other parts of east Houston. Through 2017 and beyond, Houston is focusing on providing the amenities that are focal points in the meeting industry. 

For more information, visit www.visithoustontexas.com/meetings.