HARLINGEN — For two months, the city waited for proposed rental rates to launch the promotion of the $16.7 million convention center.
Last week, Brandon Raney, chief executive officer for San Antonio-based BC Lynd Hospitality, presented city commissioners with a proposed marketing plan and rental rates.
The proposed rates apparently would make the $16.7 million convention center “competitive” with other event venues in the Rio Grande Valley.
Next week, commissioners are expected to consider approving the rental rates, a critical step to booking events at the 44,436-square-foot convention center expected to open around January 2019, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.
“All these events are planned and booked a year or more in advance,” Serna said.
The proposed rates appear to make it “comparable” with the McAllen Convention Center while slightly pricier than conference venues in Brownsville and South Padre Island.
“The rates are good,” Mayor Chris Boswell said.
“It would be a little higher than South Padre Island and Brownsville and fairly comparable to McAllen, depending on the configuration,” Boswell said, referring to the differing prices of the venues’ larger and smaller conference rooms. “You want to price it to cover expenses of operation.”
Boswell said the convention center will offer a better choice because it will be the region’s newest, high-quality conference venue attached to a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn.
“We think this is going to be a real high-quality property providing a high-quality experience,” Boswell said.
According to the proposed rate schedule, the convention center’s 16,200-square-foot ballroom would rent from $5,670 a day, while its smaller meeting rooms would offer daily rates ranging from $175 to $500.
Meanwhile, the facility’s outdoor pavilion would rent for $1,500 a day.
Other rates around the Valley
At the McAllen Convention Center, the convention hall’s non-discounted daily rate ranges from $3,780 to $8,316 while meeting rooms start at about $48.
In Brownsville, the Brownsville Convention Center’s 13,530-square-foot Palo Alto Grand Ballroom offers daily rates ranging from $1,522 to $3,044 while the facility’s smaller meeting rooms start at about $94 a day.
On South Padre Island, the 22,500 square-foot Exhibit Hall rents for $2,500 a day, while the 2,633-square-foot Theater rents for $650 a day, with meetings rooms renting from about $250 to $400.
BC Lynd, which would staff and operate the new convention center in Harlingen, also presented commissioners with proposed marketing plan.
The marketing plan would promote Harlingen’s mid-Valley location as the ideal site for conventions in the area.
“Emphasis should be on the Harlingen Convention Center’s prime, central location in South Texas,” the marketing plan states. “Location is the number-one factor in a corporate event planner’s decision of where to host an event — our main advantage is where the convention center is located.”
The area’s proximity to Mexico also offers unique marketing opportunities.
“No other region in America offers such an advantageous array of resources at the strategic crossroads of the U.S./Mexico trade corridor,” the marketing plan states.
The plan recommends building a list of companies that travel to the Valley while businesses conducting meetings and conferences in the area
The plan also proposes contacting college departments, wedding venues and related businesses, large churches, reunions as well as fraternity and sorority groups.
“Through direct sales efforts, the sales team will identify group opportunities for the conference center that will include reunions, wedding receptions, religious retreats, business conferences or any other group gathering,” the plan states.
The marketing plan recommends targeting organizations holding conventions at other event venues such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, Harlingen Medical Center, the Rio Grande Valley Home & Garden Show; the Texas Association of Governmental Information Technology Managers, Annual South Texas Women Leading Government Conference, United Healthcare Services, Texas Association of Assessing Officers, Association for Play Therapy and the Winter Texan Expo & Health Fair.
Ballroom — $5,670
Meeting rooms — $175 to $500
Pavilion — $1,500
Convention Hall’s non-discounted daily rates — $3,780 to $8,316
Ballroom A’s non-discounted rate — $1,100
Meeting rooms — from $48
Palo Alto Grand Ballroom daily rates — $1,522 to $3,044
Palo Alto E — $507 to $1,015
Meeting rooms — from $94
South Padre Island
Exhibit Hall — $2,500
Meetings rooms — from $250 to $400