Few nations, let alone states, can match Texas in business. According to the Texas Economic Development Division, the state’s GDP is the 10th largest in the world, ahead of Australia, Russia and many other countries.

Much of the action is centered in the booming Metroplex, where “super hub” Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport alone contributes $37 billion in total economic output to the region.

Nearly half (22) of the 50 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas are concentrated in Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving, including Exxon Mobil, AT&T, American Airlines and Kimberly-Clark. The region is a magnet for corporate relocations, expansions and investments. Hiring is healthy in this talent-rich market, driving in turn robust demand for office space.  

This high-performance economic engine is also revving up the group market. More business means more meetings, conventions and tradeshows, which continues to spur large-scale investment in hotels, convention centers, entertainment districts and related infrastructure.

Last October, leading local publication D Magazine ran a story titled, “Can Dallas-Fort Worth Become a Meetings Mecca?” Ranked fourth in the nation for meetings and conventions by Cvent last year (November 2016 to October 2017), the Metroplex, with four bureaus—Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving—participating in the pro-inclusivity Texas Welcomes All coalition, appears well on its way.

Booking Engines

Fiscal 2017 was a banner year for VisitDallas. Through its targeted “Dallas Delivers” campaign, the bureau booked 1,446 meetings and events, including a record 42 future citywide events, and more than 1.3 million room nights, 20 percent above 2016. In this expanding group market—Dallas alone is Cvent’s eighth top destination—hotel growth is key.

With roughly 42 percent of the Metroplex lodging market, including some 13,000 downtown rooms, the city is presently second behind New York in pipeline development, with some 6,685 rooms in construction.

“Dallas is fortunate to have an abundance of existing hotels,” said Phillip Jones, president & CEO of VisitDallas. “The announcement and completion of additional properties serves as a good forecast for continued growth in our convention business. With the increase in capacity, meeting planners and companies will be able to bring larger and grander events to Dallas.”

Investing in hotels has provided Dallas with valuable return on meetings. One prime example is the 1,001-room Omni Dallas, which has significantly boosted the city’s hosting profile since opening in November 2011.  

Offering 142,000-plus square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the LEED Gold-certified headquarter hotel is connected by skybridge to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, providing ready access to more than 2.1 million square feet of convention space.

Notable arrivals in the current wave include the 237-room Lorenzo Hotel. Two blocks from the convention center, this art-filled boutique offers innovative spaces such as two poolside Idea Labs. The legendary 1956 Statler Hilton was reborn last October as the Statler Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton following a $230 million makeover. The Hilton Curio property offers 159 hotel rooms and 17,000-plus square feet of versatile space. Slated for 2019, Virgin Hotels’ $80 million property in the resurgent Design District will offer 200 rooms and a variety of meeting spaces.

Jones noted that “while these properties significantly broaden Dallas’ luxury profile, several mid-range openings will provide convention guests with more affordable alternatives.”

The drive for expanded lodging is also on in Fort Worth. Today, with meetings momentum building against limited supply, the city is increasing its downtown inventory of 2,500-plus rooms by around 42 percent, or 1,053 rooms in seven announced projects.

Located steps from the Fort Worth Convention Center, both the 120-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Fort Worth Downtown, and the 245-room Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Worth Downtown, with conference space, opened last October. Other projects include a 180-room Aloft (early 2018); 162-room Hilton Garden Inn (2019); and new 170-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott in the Stockyards District, featuring a rooftop cafe and bar from star Fort Worth chef-restaurateur Tim Love.