The Dallas Convention and Visitors Scene Grows

The competitive edge of Dallas as a convention and visitor’s destination is growing. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau’s chief executive, Phillip Jones, points to an aggressive marketing campaign, funded in part by new tax dollars, and lots of new development that has helped lure more groups to North Texas.

The number of major conventions booked annually has almost quadrupled, from eight in 2003 to 31 this past fiscal year which ended in September. In the same period, the number of room nights booked for future events jumped from less than half a million to 1.5 million.  (A room night is calculated as the number of rooms expected to be used multiplied by the number of nights.)  According to the bureau, the 1.5 million room nights translate into an estimated $455 million in direct spending.  Another measure of success, the citywide event, uses 2,500 hotel rooms on the peak night. A record number of citywides have also been booked, many over the next few years.

Based in part on the number of future room nights booked, the Dallas bureau estimates that for the 2012-13 fiscal year, Dallas ranked fifth among the major convention cities. It’s the first time in years that Dallas has been in the top five, just behind Vegas, San Francisco, Orlando and Chicago. Last year Dallas ranked seventh, behind Atlanta and New Orleans.

Cvent, an online meeting planning service, released their own list in August based on the amount of events booked through the service in 2013. Dallas ranked eighth-most popular destination for meeting planners.

Construction of the city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel, the expansion of the Arts District, the opening of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and construction of Klyde Warren Park are a few of the major attractions adding to the allure of Dallas.

Success can also be partially attributed to a newly implemented economic development tool, the Tourism Public Improvement District which collected $12 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year. The district is funded through a tax on stays at major Dallas hotels. The money supported the “Big things happen here” branding campaign and has helped offset some of the costs of the conventions that come to town.

Jones expects revenue from the current fiscal year to be closer to $13 million, with the money planned to be used for the city’s first commercial to air on broadcast television, and shorter spots to be shown online.

Source: Dallas Morning News, Oct 31, 2013.
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