The saying “Everything is bigger in Texas!” is especially true when it comes to ways for planners to tailor Lone Star meetings that are as unique and memorable as they are productive. In Texas, you should expect everything from world-class venues and cuisine to down-home barbecues and neighborly hospitality. Texas meetings are ideal to brand using local flavors and culture. 

Working with destination management organizations and convention and visitor bureaus is always the best place to start, as on-the-ground partners are experts on the local scene and can tap into resources creating a turnkey experience. At Visit San Antonio, for example, unique and authentic experiences are a specialty, and we pride ourselves in helping groups create truly unique and authentic meetings that attendees will not soon forget. 

But all over Texas there are so many ways to integrate Texas culture and authenticity into a meeting. Culinary, entertainment, tours and event venues are just a few tools. 

The culinary experience in Texas can span from award-winning barbecue and authentic Tex-Mex, to freshly caught Gulf Coast seafood and the latest chef-driven, contemporary cuisine. Texas continues to gain national attention with its cutting-edge culinary scene. Local chefs are often inspired by local ingredients, as well as the rich and diverse cultures prevalent in the state. 

Another way to bring events alive is with entertainment, and there is no limit to options in Texas. The diversity in San Antonio offers strains of Tejano or Conjunto music, traditional mariachis, a country western band, swirling Ballet Folklorico dancers, modern rock/blues/indie, German polka and more, all of which can make events fun and memorable. Just north of San Antonio is Austin, where the official motto is the “Live Music Capital of the World” and entertainment options are limitless. Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth also have excellent choices from great blues or jazz bands to Texas Western swing bands, along with many other genres.

Tours and excursions are also great ways to incorporate local culture into your meeting. Whether experiencing a city’s rich history, exploring the arts district, or discovering eclectic neighborhoods, tours and excursions are excellent tools to create a truly experiential event. In addition, Texas’ burgeoning wine industry creates many opportunities for tasting, day trips, and special events.  

Venues are key as well. Going for the more traditional Texas theme, options include those that take visitors back to the Old West, with ranch-like off-site venues—think open spits and fire-grilled goodness—to rodeos and even honky-tonks. Natural, outdoorsy backdrops abound: from the Piney Woods of East Texas, the sands of Texas beaches, the splendor of West Texas and Big Bend area, the wonder of places like Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle, parasailing off the coast and more. The rolling topography of the Texas Hill Country is tranquil and pristine. As Texas has always been a blend of cultures, there are opportunities for events like “NIOSA” (Night in Old San Antonio) where attendees can enjoy German, Spanish, Mexican, and traditional favorites tapping into some of the many cultures that settled Texas. Urban-chic is also an option. You will find world-class performing arts venues, cosmopolitan hubs and beautiful museums that are the perfect places for group events reaching for that over-the-top “wow” appeal.

No matter where you meet in Texas, melding local culture into your meeting brings authenticity, color, texture, depth and lasting memories for attendees.

In 2020, Houston First Corp. (HFC) reported that the city was slated to host 252 meetings and 611,000 room nights. By March 14, the Bayou City had already hosted 115 conventions and 137,400 room nights. Then the pandemic hit, and meetings and events across the country came to a screeching halt.

We asked Michael Heckman, acting president and CEO of Houston First Corp. (HFC) how the health crisis has influenced the organization’s business model moving forward.

 

Great lighting is key. Smart décor is a must. But the mood of any gala, auction or awards ceremony lies largely on the shoulders of its master of ceremonies. Who you choose to represent your cause or organization on stage can be the difference between an event that is “ho-hum” or “electrifying.”

Texas Meetings + Events reached out to three of Texas’s favorite emcees. They shared with us how they got where they are—and what they’re doing now—along with some sage advice.