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August 16, 2009

Texan city uses latest technology to attract meetings and events

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) has created two non-traditional partnerships to develop powerful innovative tools to sell conventions.

Both tools would have been financial stretches to develop – even in more prosperous times – and the partnerships benefit all parties.

The new tools are designed to sell the city to meeting planners and convention delegates, giving the companies involved additional visibility to GHCVB clients and members.

Intelligent texting
Keeping attendees informed and updated at conventions has long been a challenge. To streamline communications at Houston conventions, the GHCVB has partnered with GuestAssist-Conference, an innovator in two-way, text-message communication.

Using this tool, attendees can reach event staff quickly and easily with questions or concerns using the text-message feature on their mobile phones, and receive immediate assistance via GuestAssist-Conference's command center software.

GuestAssist-Conference can be used for a variety of communication tasks, such as giving directions, providing special event updates or schedule changes, noting facility maintenance issues, responding to first-aid needs or fine-tuning security procedures.

Wraparound service
During registration, attendees will be asked to provide their mobile numbers if they want to receive updates and information from conference organisers. During the event, an event or venue-specific short-code text number is on display throughout the convention, and attendees with questions, comments or concerns simply text to the number. Replies are sent directly to their phones.

After the event, GuestAssist provides a detailed analysis of texts, which can then be used to improve overall guest relations and event management.
The GHCVB will offer GuestAssist-Conference free of charge to citywide conventions held through 2012.

Points of interest
The GHCVB has also partnered with the Proforma/Panoptic Team to develop the first phase of a multi-dimensional, interactive map designed to give GHCVB salespeople, meeting planners and event organisers a comprehensive overview of the hundreds of points of interest that Houston has to offer before they schedule a site visit. 

This technology uses video, interactive motion graphics and the internet to transport a viewer into the city.

An interactive map features Houston's zones: Downtown, Reliant Park/Texas Medical Center and Uptown, as well as outlying areas, such as the Bay Area Houston and Galveston. Up-and-coming neighbourhoods Midtown and the Washington Avenue Corridor will also soon be included.

Each zone is further broken down into featured areas: meeting facilities, hotels, dining, attractions, green space and transportation. The featured areas are plotted in each zone and accompanied with video vignettes and/or flash information slides.

Tailored to fit
The entire interactive map will be housed on the GHCVB's website, with a URL of www.myhoustonmeeting.com. This will allow meeting planners researching on the web to experience Houston in the same way a client would during a presentation.

Each presentation can be tailored to fit the planner's needs, featuring short, entertaining 25 to 30-second videos, providing insight into important featured areas.

The Proforma/Panoptic team and the GHCVB believe Houston is the first destination to apply this level of technology in communicating a city's amenities.

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