City Looking to Ramp Up Convention Business
The Austin City Council will consider this week whether to hire a Chicago company that would advertise Austin as a major destination for trade shows and national and international conventions. The city hopes to bring more high-caliber traffic to the Austin Convention Center.
Tourism officials say Austin needs more hotel rooms to keep up with demand from big events like Formula One, South by Southwest and, of course, this weekend’s ACL Festival. And between big events, those rooms need to be filled.
That’s the job of Bob Lander. From his Congress Avenue office — surrounded by construction sites — Lander runs the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Looking out my window right now there’s a very large hotel being built right next door, a 1,012-rooms JW Marriott,” Lander said. “We have a Hyatt Place under construction, almost complete. All those things are very much needed for us to keep up, especially on the side of the convention market.”
The CVB markets Austin as a convention destination, spending big dollars each year to tell Austin’s story to the people who book conventions.
Now they want to reach people who book the best conventions, and that may cost more. The CVB is turning to the Professional Convention Management Association.
Diana Pfaff with the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau has used PCMA and recommends its work.
“It gives you direct access to customers,” Pfaff said. This is not scattered shooting advertising, it’s not mass advertising where you send an ad out and hope that some business trickles in. This is very focused advertising and networking. And when you are competing with the Las Vegases of the world, that type of access matters.”
That type of access won’t come cheap. On Thursday, the City Council will consider paying PCMA $345,000 for two years of their services.