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How Houston Is Making Big Strides in the Meetings and Conventions Market

Buffalo Bayou Park and Houston skyline.

Houston has blossomed and meeting planners are taking notice.  

The fourth-largest city in the U.S. is home to a diverse tapestry of people and cultures, fostering a community bursting with world-class art and renowned cuisine. Houston is also known as “Space City,” going back to 1967 when it became home to NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center. Since then, intellectual capital has soared and many businesses call Houston home, and visitors can explore the history of the city’s integral role in the space race at Space Center Houston.

FIRST Robotics Convention at the convention center in Houston
FIRST Robotics Convention. Credit Houston First Corporation

All of this and more is bringing big meeting and convention wins to town. The FIRST Robotics Convention brought 45,000-plus attendees to Houston this year, its largest iteration of the event in Houston to date, and successfully ran concurrently with three Taylor Swift concerts during one weekend. The city saw hotel occupancy and daily hotel rates higher for this particular weekend than they were for the NCAA Men’s Final Four competition, another major event in Houston in 2023.

Michael Heckman, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation, the city’s DMO (which works through its main consumer brand, Visit Houston, to promote the city), notes that the outlook for group business in Houston is very bright.

“It’s clear that demand continues to be very strong for meetings and events of all sizes,” he said. “Demand you see for small meetings and mega conventions continues to be very strong. We have very good attendance in Houston throughout the year, and we have record lead demand and generation for future events.”

Notable business won in 2023, according to Heckman, includes Gastech by dmg events—the world’s largest global exhibition and conference for the natural gas, LNG, hydrogen, low carbon solutions and climate technologies—which will take place in Houston in 2024 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The event typically draws 40,000 attendees from all over the world. The Republican National Convention, which was booked last year and will actualize in 2028, was another big event win for Houston.

Meeting planners tasked with very tight booking windows for meetings—a common gripe following the pandemic years—will be happy to hear that Houston First has invested considerable staff and resources to booking short-term business.

“We have deployed our sales team to take advantage of the incredible amount of short-term business that’s out there—meetings of all kinds—there is such a short booking window. You’ve got to be able to take advantage of that and be staffed accordingly,” Heckman said. “We have invested in more resources to be more responsive, and be flexible, move some meeting space around, accommodate short-term business. That’s going to continue into 2025.”

[Related: 4 Houston Venues That Tap Into Art and History]

Houston Convention Center Campus Improvements on the Horizon

George R. Brown Convention Center. Credit: Houston First Corporation

The benefits for meetings and conventions only continue to grow in Houston, including improvements to the convention center campus.  

George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston spans more than 1.2 million square feet and is already one of the top 10 largest convention centers in the country. Roughly 2,200 hotel rooms are directly connected to the facility—1,200 from Hilton Americas-Houston and 1,000 from Marriott Marquis Houston—and the campus is surrounded by key attractions, including Discovery Green, a 12-acre urban park across the street; Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros; and Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets and also host to many concerts and other special events.  

Undoubtedly, the convention center is a premier venue capable of hosting incredibly large meetings, conventions and tradeshows.

George R. Brown Convention Center was built in 1987, and Heckman says that while it is a great facility, it is in need of enhancements. The good news is enhancements are coming. Last year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill that will give Houston First access to an estimated $2 billion that will be used to transform the George R. Brown Convention Center and surrounding campus. Details will be released later in 2024 and the organization hopes to break ground in 2025.

“It has not been completely overhauled and we are embarking on a transformation of our building and adding an entertainment district and walkable amenities,” he said. “We are very, very proud of this. It can take us to an even higher level.”

[Related: The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Is a Hotel Development Hotbed]

How Houston Is Poised for the Future

Already serving as an events powerhouse, with more improvements to come, Houston stands tall for the future. Heckman noted that while Houston is a very large city, it’s important to remember that it has great accessibility in its airlift, being home to two airports (Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport), and its location in the middle of the country makes it an easy hub for attendees scattered across the U.S.  

The compact walkability of the convention center campus is another major plus, and the greenspace is something that he finds always surprises planners (over 50,000 acres of total park space).  

“Also, our level of hospitality. We are an easy place to do business, we appreciate our visitors and convention clients very much,” he added. “People are warm and hospitable here, even for a big city like Houston. It’s really something that’s terrific that I hear a lot.”

[Related: These Fast-Growing Texas Markets Have It All for Meetings]

Plus: Development News in Houston (2024)

  • Hotel Saint Augustine ( is a new boutique hotel coming to the heart of Houston’s Museum District, scheduled to open in 2024. Along with 71 rooms, the property will also feature an intimate event space, all-day restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and a lobby bar. The hotel will open adjacent to the Menil Collection campus, an art museum and neighborhood spanning 30 acres.
  • Meow Wolf ( is bringing its eye-popping talents to Houston’s 5th Ward in 2024. The $42 million attraction is under construction in the former Moncrief-Lenoir Manufacturing Co. building on Lyons Avenue, not far from Saint Arnold Brewing Co. The new 32,000-square-foot space in 5th Ward promises to offer “reality-bending” interactive art for all ages, mixing work from local artists as well as the company’s own talent.
  • Thompson Houston ( opened in February in The Allen development in Buffalo Bayou Park. The 172-room hotel includes a large one-acre pool deck, full-service spa, 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space and a variety of chef-driven restaurant concepts.
  • Great Wolf Lodge Texas Gulf Coast ( will open in November 2024 in nearby Webster. The $200 million resort will include 532 themed guest rooms and suites, a 95,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, a 61,000-square-foot adventure park with entertainment center and attractions, nearly 16,000 square feet of conference and meetings space and several dining options set on a 27-acre campus.  


Visit Houston 

Plus: Stay up to date on all the latest meetings and conventions news in Texas.

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.