Blake Henry’s career has taken him around the country as a hospitality industry veteran who has now located to South Padre Island.
Henry is the new director of the South Padre Island Convention & Visitors Bureau who is looking forward to the planned renovation of the CVB’s main venue. It is a key piece of his plans to raise national awareness of SPI. The Island’s brand is strong instate as reflected recently when the Texas Travels Awards named South Padre as its Destination of The Year.
Henry wants to take those strengths and more effectively market SPI nationwide.
“You get more bang for your buck here than, say, going to Florida,” he said. “We offer an itinerary beyond the beach experience. We have great fishing, ecotourism with birding, to go with our history and arts here.”
Building On Experience
Henry is a Rochester, N.Y. native who began his career in Los Angeles, working at the Staples Center for the LA Kings of the National Hockey League.
Other stops in his career have included being the general manager of the Nokia Theater and Best Buy Theater in New York City. Most recently, he was the general manager of the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. The Island is a different sort of setting for him. It’s a smaller market than some other places he has worked but one with lots of potential.
“I see this Island as set for tremendous growth,” Henry said. “I’m looking forward to building partnerships so that we’re all on the same page as we go about attracting business and raising national awareness for the Island.”
Henry will be working with his board and the city on a renovation and expansion of the Convention Center. He will bring a background of implementing a $200-million-plus convention center renovation in Louisville. A Convention Center Expansion Feasibility Study conducted by SPI’s city government stated an expansion of the existing facility could bring an 82 percent increase in direct and indirect revenues within five years.
An improved and larger convention center would enable Henry to better pursue goals he listed in his first few weeks on the job. He plans to have more sports events on the Island, especially college basketball in the form of holiday tournaments. Henry mentioned working closely with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on that goal. He would like to tap into the Valley’s growing health care industry, and schedule more company meetings and conferences on the Island.
All of those type of events would help the Island attract more visitors during the off-season months from mid-September through late February.
“There are things we can do in those off-season months that would benefit everyone on the Island,” Henry said.
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