Out & Equal convention coming to Dallas in 2011

Largest LGBT national convention should have an $8 million economic impact on city, officials estimate


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

George Carrancho
George Carrancho

The 2011 Out & Equal convention will be held in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, officials with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We’re excited to host the 2011 Out & Equal Conference in Dallas,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the CVB. “With its more than $8 million economic impact to the city, it will be the largest LGBT convention held in Dallas to date.”

Jones said that convention and leisure travel to Dallas has increased in the past five years.

“We were selected to host this convention in part because of our strong, cohesive LGBT community,” he said. “This community support is essential as we continue to promote Dallas as a top LGBT destination.”

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national organization based in San Francisco advocating from within companies for workplace equality for LGBT employees. They provide a variety of services to companies and employee resource groups and offer diversity training specific to LGBT workplace issues.

There are 18 regional affiliates, including ones in Dallas and Houston.

Tony Vedda, executive director of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, said his group partnered with the Dallas CVB to bring the convention to the city.

“They were looking at several cities,” he said. “We’re thrilled they chose us.”

Earlier this year, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force held its annual Creating Change conference in Dallas for the second time.Officials estimated the impact of that conference at about $4 million for the city.

Vedda said that successfully hosting one LGBT event helps bring the next one.

“It shows the rest of the world that Dallas is a welcoming city,” he said.

Vedda said that the GLBT Chamber works well with the city. When the area was bidding on this season’s Super Bowl, the GLBT Chamber was asked to send a letter supporting the bid.

Vedda said that these events are very important to the city’s economy and has a positive effect on LGBT-owned businesses, especially in Oak Lawn.

“When we bring in conferences, those people leave lots of tax money for us,” he said. “That’s money that local residents don’t have to spend for services themselves.”

Veronica L. Torres, director of diversity and community relations with the CVB called the convention a big win for Dallas. She said this was the largest LGBT convention the city has booked.

Each year different groups partner with the CVB to stage events, like the Dallas Bears who host the annual Texas Bear Round Up and Dallas Southern Pride which holds its annual black gay Pride each fall, Torres said.

In addition to Out & Equal, the CVB helped book Reaching Out MBA for Oct. 2011 at the Fairmont Hotel. Torres said that 500 to 1,000 people are expected for that convention. In Sept. 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Band Association will meet at the Melrose Hotel.

Torres said she is hoping a small meeting of GALA choruses managers in Dallas next month translates into the convention of LGBT choral association booking the city. They would take over the all of the performing arts venues in the Arts District.

“Dallas is our hometown,” said George Carrancho of American Airlines Rainbow Team. “We’ve been a partner of Out & Equal for at least eight years.”

Carrancho worked with the CVB and GLBT Chamber to bring Out & Equal to Dallas.

He said Out & Equal recognizes the work of the airline. American’s chief commercial officer, Virasb Vahidi, will be the opening speaker of this year’s convention in Los Angeles, and Denise Lynn, vice president of diversity and leadership strategies, is up for the Out & Equal’s Champion Award, given annually to an ally.

To help Dallas win the convention, Carancho said he offered the convention an aggressive discount program.

“This is a big win for American and a big win for Dallas,” he said.

Vedda said that a number of things work in favor of the city of Dallas including the annual press tour for travel writers.

“We get beaucoups of great coverage,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of showcasing Dallas and Fort Worth as welcoming cities.”

Vedda said groups are impressed by the corporate support the local LGBT community gets.

“And not every city can call the mayor, ask him to come to help us sell the city and he does,” Vedda said.

Vedda said the GLBT Chamber continues to work with the Dallas CVB and they have their sites set on several additional conferences, conventions and LGBT sports groups.

“We’re always working on bringing new stuff to Dallas,” he said.

Officials with Out & Equal declined to discuss the 2011 convention, saying they do not announce the coming year’s convention until the end of the convention for the current year.

The 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Summit is scheduled for Oct. 5-8 in Los Angeles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens