The Tourism department is charged with the promotion of the Greater Houston area as a destination with the goal of increasing leisure travel to Houston. These efforts are measured in increased returns for area hotels, attractions, restaurants and others in the hospitality sector. The department is also tasked with working with the Houston hospitality industry to assist in leisure promotional efforts and encourage the creation of new leisure products.
Tourism actively works with domestic and international travel trade, including wholesale, retail, online agencies and tour operators in order to reach the traveling consumer. The Tourism team participates in travel and consumer trade shows and organizes sales missions and familiarization trips to reach key clients in its top markets. The department also handles visits to Houston by international media and manages the Spanish website and social media presence to generate exposure for Houston in Spanish speaking countries. Additionally, Tourism manages agencies representing the city in its top five international markets: Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, China and Germany.
Tourism secured 144,590 leisure room nights from international markets by working with wholesalers, tour operators, receptive operators and retail travel agents as well as focusing on the reunions market.
On the international PR front, the department secured 748 media placements, with a total of 9.8 million impressions which generated $11.3 million in positive media value for the year. The Spanish-language website VisitaHoustonTexas.com logged more than 442,000 visits in 2015, a 78% increase over the prior year. The accompanying Twitter and Facebook accounts grew to 5,263 and 13,680 respectively through in-house efforts and help from Visit Houston’s Mexico office. Tourism also trained 5,005 travel professionals around the world on how to sell Houston as a leisure destination, more than double the department’s annual goal.
In 2015, Tourism developed and executed the first Houston Tourism Summit, giving members the opportunity to interact, find out more about Tourism’s new direction and to learn about marketing opportunities to promote their products to leisure travelers.
The Tourism Summit further served as an opportunity to unveil the Houston First Matching Grant Program. The program allows hospitality partners to partner up to apply for funding for initiatives that could directly bring travelers to Houston from beyond a 150-mile radius. In total there were 27 applicants for the program of which 14 groups received grants to promote their products. A total of $250,000 in grants were awarded.
Finally, the Tourism department led an effort to create a cooperative marketing initiative for regional destination marketing organizations under the Visit Houston umbrella. Visit Houston and Beyond includes the cities of Alvin, Beaumont, Conroe, the Woodlands, Galveston, Baytown, Deer Park, Sugar Land, Huntsville, Bay Area Houston, Tomball, Pearland, Port Arthur and Brazosport. Partners have already come together on a new marketing effort and plans are underway to attend major trade and consumer shows.
Leisure & Reunion Room Nights
Exceeding 2015 Goal by 44%
Visitors to the Spanish-Language
Website, 113% of Goal
Social Media Followers
A 26% Increase Over 2014
Trained In Selling Houston
500% of Goal