More meetings head to North Texas
By KAREN ROBINSON-JACOBS
Staff Writer [email protected]
LOCAL ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT | DALLAS-AREA CONVENTIONS
Staff Artist [email protected]
Across North Texas, municipalities have been spending big bucks to boost their appeal to wallet-bearing conventioneers. Their timing appears to be good. After a sharp decline in travel during the economic downturn, the exhibition industry is bouncing back. In 2011 and the first three quarters of 2012, conventions nationwide saw increases in attendance, inflation-adjusted revenue and exhibitor space, according to the Dallas-based Center for Exhibition Industry Research.
This year was Dallas' first full year in the convention hotel business. Voters approved the construction of the Omni Dallas Hotel based on the hope that a hotel attached to the Dallas Convention Center would boost the number of large conventions, which fill up hotel rooms throughout central Dallas.
2009 2010 2011 2012
The Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau is focused on getting more local companies and associations to bring their convention business “home.”
Top meetings (based on attendance, in thousands)
Dallas Auto Show Super Bowl XLV NFL Fan Housing Dallas Football Classic Team Bands
Year-over-year percentage change 16% 7%
200 150 60
8% 6% 7%
Dallas Auto Show Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love Rock 'n Roll Dallas Half Marathon Great American Trucking Show
tt A d en
Conventioneers nationwide reconvene
Four key measures of health in the convention industry continued to grow this year, but the pace of growth has slowed as fears of fiscal cliff fallout and economic troubles in Europe caused would-be travelers to pull back.
Q1 Q2 Q3 2009 2010 2011 2012
Year-over-year percentage change
3.4% 2.2% 1.4% 1.3% 2.2 1.5 1.1 0.9
Net squ feet
80 54.5 50
vents b 2013 (E ooked a s of 12/ 01/12)
Dallas Auto Show
Dallas, which still is booking conventions for next year, has already booked 7% more conventioneers than in 2012.
The Potter’s House MegaFest Lone Star Classic (volleyball) AHR Expo (HVAC)
100 72.5 60
Bureau officials estimate the economic impact of MegaFest will be $41 million.
Irving With a budget of $133 million, funded through municipal bonds, the city got into the convention game in a bigger way last year with the opening of the Irving Convention Center. Previously, the convention bureau booked only meetings that fit into one of the local hotels. A large group would have been 350 people, one official said.
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
4.8 3.2 3.1 3.3 2.6 2.4 1.2 0.4
Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas*
* Irving Convention Center opened in January 2011. The fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
00 266 12,6 , 14
1,7 16 68 13 5 26 88 1,5 99
02 Nu m be om Ro Nu m r be e of ve ro tt fa Ni
**Number of occupied rooms times the number of nights occupied.
en de es
The bottom line
“We’re seeing smaller, more boutique events. Shows are eliminating ‘frills,’ and some are shifting to hotel venues from convention centers. So facilities such as the Gaylord [Texan] in Grapevine have impacted convention center occupancy rates.” Doug Ducate, president and CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research
SOURCES: Center for Exhibition Industry Research; Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau; Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau
“We’re seeing more corporate use, which … dovetails with the return of the economy. We’ve also seen a lot of weddings, a lot of social events. The operating subsidy … comes out of my operating budget. So the better the convention center does from a revenue standpoint, the better it is for all of us.” Maura Gast, executive director, Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau
“The city of Dallas bet $500 million that it would attract more large conventions with the addition of a headquarters hotel. With some convention groups downsizing, competition for the really big fish will become more intense. Dallas will have to step up its game.” Karen RobinsonJacobs, staff writer