The Houston 2200 Plan
Even though Houston has the world’s largest collection of medical professionals, last year one hotel in Orlando hosted more medical and pharmaceutical conferences than the entire Houston MSA. Houston is behind Austin, San Antonio and Dallas in event hosting. Houston First has a plan to change that — Houston 2200.
The work being done around the Convention Center and Discovery Green may be focused around the Super Bowl right now, but it's all part of a larger plan to establish Houston as a world-class convention and meeting destination. At yesterday's Houston Hospitality Boom event, Rida Development's Ira Mitzner and Houston First's Peter McStravick gave us a first look at the Houston 2200 plan, which sells the entire convention district as one experience.
It’s based off the Orlando 3000 plan. Orlando recently built a new convention center parallel to the existing one, upping the venue to about 1M SF of exhibit space. When packaged with a new 1,400-room Hilton and 1,600-room Hyatt, the area becomes a "convention campus" that can be sold as Orlando 3000.
Packaging the Hilton Americas, Marriott Marquis and GRBCC as a "convention campus" will allow Houston to compete against any event venue in the world, Mitzner said. He threw out a hypothetical: Imagine you want to host a regional meeting, and you need 600 rooms and 60k SF of net meeting space. In Houston, you have one location that can accommodate. Dallas has six. Orlando has 21. The new plan transforms the paradigm of what's in Houston, and Mitzner believes the new improvements can leapfrog Houston over Dallas in event hosting. Houston may not be as big as other popular travel/event destinations, but it’s just as good.
The "convention campus" around Discovery Green isn’t just for events. Mitzner said the district is three hotels in one. First, it’s a Downtown business hotel. Among Downtown offices, with easy access to the highway system, it’s perfect for visiting clients or home office visits. Second, the area benefits from room block agreements, allowing it to operate as a convention hotel hot spot. Third, with the abundance of amenities in the area, it functions as a staycation location. Bring the family from the suburbs to enjoy the Texas-shaped lazy river in the morning, a ballgame in the afternoon and a delicious meal that night.
Houston’s hospitality sector has been booming thanks to Super Bowl LI. McStravick (above, with Gensler's Brooks Howell and Winstead PC's David Staas) said while the Super Bowl gave everyone a deadline, the improvements aren’t for the visitors, they’re for locals. The big game isn't the end goal, it’s a means to get there. In a couple of weeks, tens of thousands of visitors will come to Houston and see all we have to offer. The real hospitality boom will be when they decide to come back again and again.