• Houston Looks Ahead

     
    POSTED November 9, 2017
     

Following Hurricane Harvey, events took a hit. Now one local business is hopeful for a quick recovery.

Steven David founded his photography business, Houston Event Photo Booth, in 1997. Over the past few years, demand for event photography at fundraisers, expositions, conferences and corporate meetings has grown. And David’s business has grown along with that increased demand—at least until Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in August.

After making landfall in south Texas on August 25, Harvey stalled for a record-setting 117 hours. Hurricane Harvey resulted in 82 fatalities, up to 61 inches of rain, historic flooding and an estimated $180 billion in property damage. Most business segments in the Houston area, including the meetings and events industry, were affected and are still working to recoup the losses.

“We are really hurting,” says David, owner of Houston Event Photo Booth. “Many venues were damaged by the storm, and local citizens and businesses cancelled planned events to focus on cleanup, recovery and rebuilding.”

Fortunately, Hurricane Harvey had a lesser impact on conferences coming to Houston from outside the area. “Visit Houston is fortunate to have the support of the meetings industry, and that they are committed to keep their business in Houston,” says Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The George R. Brown Convention Center, which acted as a shelter through Harvey, returned to business September 15, hosting the Texas Society of Association Executives. To date, no large-scale conventions have been canceled, though five meetings were rescheduled for later dates.”

Event-related companies like Houston Event Photo Booth are committed, too. The goal, says David, is to create a fun atmosphere for all kinds of group events, including corporate banquets and group meetings. The company offers a number backgrounds, such as a green screen that can be customized to fit any event. Pictures are printed immediately on-site and are also uploaded digitally to an online gallery for guests to view or download. The booths are open-air, allowing groups of up to 12 to pose for pictures at one time. Additionally, Houston Event Photo Booth can provide a screen and projector for a slideshow of the photo booth photos as they are taken. An on-site professional attendant is included with every booking.

"Photo printing has become immensely popular in recent years and it looks set to continue as a popular event trend,” David says. “At events, people want a take away, they want to leave the event with something in their hands. Pictures get lost or deleted when they are on your phone or computer. With a print, you can tape it to the fridge, or put it on your desk where it can be enjoyed. I have some reluctant clients with small budgets, but I always recommend they offer printed pictures.”

David says that he has a nearly full schedule of events in December 2017, and that bump in business is just in time. As cleanup efforts are continuing, much progress has been made throughout the greater

Houston area. David remains optimistic about life getting back to a new normal, allowing local people as well as businesses to resume scheduling events like holiday parties and annual group meetings. And Waterman agrees with the sentiment.

“2018 is on pace to be a record year for our group segment,” says Waterman. “We are pacing ahead of last year with Super Bowl in our 2017 numbers. The investments in our campus, called Avenida Houston, in preparation of hosting Super Bowl 51 along with our Astros ‘epic’ World Series win have been huge boosts to our brand and showed first hand we are open and ready for your business.” 

The Sheraton Dallas Hotel, a Marriott International property, has announced the commencement of a multimillion dollar renovation of the downtown Dallas hotel and convention property.

The Sheraton’s location in the downtown Dallas Arts District has made it a favorite gathering place for businesses and venue for social gatherings.

 

Texas Live!, Arlington’s new $1 billion entertainment complex officially opened on August 9. The Texas Rangers, The Cordish Companies and the City of Arlington project, located between the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium will also feature several new options for meetings and event planners, including 35,000-square-feet of meeting, event and convention space.

 

This August, the new Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center will be open to the public holding a new membership in IACC. This credential, better known as the International Association of Conference Centers, is an elite acknowledgement of stellar service and hospitality. As the only international association representing small-to-medium-sized venues, this membership includes thought leaders of the meetings and events industry.