. Houston Welcomes First Groups After Hurricane Harvey | Meetings & Conventions

Houston Welcomes First Groups After Hurricane Harvey

GRBCC emergency shelter

(Pictured) The GRBCC served as an emergency shelter.

When Visit Houston received word from Mayor Sylvester Turner to turn the George R. Brown Convention Center into an emergency shelter for displaced victims of Hurricane Harvey, it was all hands on deck, according to Mike Waterman, president of the convention and visitors bureau. The center ultimately sheltered more than 10,000 people.

After the storm, Visit Houston worked quickly to welcome groups back into the destination, beginning with the Texas Society of Association Executives, due to meet for its New Ideas Annual Conference at the Marriott Marquis, next door to the convention center, Sept. 17-19. Before that could happen, Steven Stout, TSAE's executive director, noted, "We wanted to make sure that Visit Houston could still host our conference the way they truly intended." The bureau reassured him they could, and the event was able to take place as planned.

"The biggest things planners can do after a catastrophe like Hurricane Harvey is to donate money and, almost as important, to book Houston," Waterman said, as he looked forward to another group coming to his city, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, for its International Exposition and 87th Annual Meeting at the convention center, Sept. 24-29.

Meanwhile, Visit Houston has partnered with the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association to create an emergency employee- relief fund. For more details or to donate, go to visithouston.com/relieffund.