The contract has not been renewed for Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and chief sales and marketing officer for the Houston First Corp., which owns and runs several convention facilities in the city. Waterman has been with Houston First since 2015, following 14 years with Marriott International.
Houston First, which owns the 1,207-room Hilton Americas-Houston across the street from the convention facility, operates the George R. Brown Convention Center, as well as the district around the center, called Avenida Houston. The government corporation also runs the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts (home to the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts); Wortham Theater Center (home to the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera); Talento Bilingue de Houston, a Latino cultural arts center; the Miller Outdoor Theatre and Houston First Outdoors (which includes Jones Plaza and other smaller venues).
"Houston First needs to speak with one voice and strategy," said Brenda Bazan, the organization's president and CEO, in a statement, noting that the city's promotion and tourism efforts are experiencing unprecedented successes, and it's essential the agency speak with a united voice in its myriad efforts to bring new convention business as well as tourism to the city. "This consolidation will allow that and encourage new partnerships within our organization to accomplish our goals."
Bazan, who was Houston First's inaugural CFO when the corporation was founded in 2011, was named president and CEO in February 2018. She will immediately assume oversight responsibilities for the management of the sales, tourism and marketing divisions.
"I think we are uniquely positioned for a positive future," she said. "The next steps require unity, collaboration and commitment from the entire team. That's how we will continue to deliver the best results for Houston."