If you’ve ever noticed the little extra tax your hotel room bill, have you wondered where some of that money ends up? It turns out that a portion of it goes towards funding the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) and, as I found out, it is money well spent. At the most basic level, a CVB exists to promise tourism and support visiting conventions with all the local resources they need, including hotel rooms, transportation, logistics, and things to do. They achieve this through online tools, sales support staff, and relationships built around the city with businesses, people of influence, and venues.
RailEyes was founded in Houston, Texas in 2014 and officially began operations in 2015. One of our first actions as a company was to join the Greater Houston Visitor’s and Conventions Bureau, or GHCVB. Our reasons for membership were pretty basic; we love Houston and we specialize in conventions. What we received, however, was so much more; the GHCVB and its leadership provided us with the means by which we could become a part of the macro-level innovation and growth that is going on in the city.
As the Managing Partner of RailEyes, I feel so rewarded by people’s reaction to what we do. In many cases, the “wow, that’s so cool” response is followed by some great ideas, questions and, in the case with the GHCVB, a pivotal introduction. Debra Savage, membership director of the GHCVB, organized an orientation at the George R. Brown Convention Center for new members. I, along with over two dozen business owners, were treated to a nice breakfast, staff introductions, and presentations on all of the GHCVB resources. We were also offered an opportunity to introduce ourselves and our organizations. When it was my turn to speak, it was actually my first time publicly announcing RailEyes. I wasn’t prepared with an elevator pitch, but I thought about the four story escalator that I had to take at the George R. Brown Convention Center to get up to the meeting room. I asked for a show of hands of who rode that escalator—nearly everyone did — and then I mentioned that I have the technology to put vibrant advertising with antimicrobial properties on those handrails that riders can enjoy for the near 60 second ride. I immediately saw people’s eyes light up. So, while I didn’t have an “elevator” pitch, I certainly had an “escalator” pitch!
By the end of the event, a majority of the attendees were interested in learning more about RailEyes. Debra introduced me to John Rolfe, COO of the GHCVB and Executive of the Houston First, the organization in charge of the largest conference centers, parks, and sports venues in the city. John is an outstanding gentleman, an absolute delight to be around. He went above and beyond expectation in taking the time to listen to me about my business. As time went on, John connected RailEyes even further with his board of directors and operations team, leading to our first potential location partner: the George R. Brown Convention Center!