News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Suzanne Marta, The Dallas Morning News
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 20, 2004 - Dallas tourism officials are testing a new strategy for winning the attention of conventioneers: food.
Mayor Laura Miller, two high-profile chefs from the area and executives with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau will visit with editors from leading food and travel publications today during an annual sales blitz in New York.
"We're going to tell them the unknown and untold story of Dallas," said Phillip Jones, the bureau's president and chief executive.
While the New York trip regularly includes visits with potential convention customers, the stops at the magazines are part of Mr. Jones' effort to show visitors what sets Dallas apart.
Dallas' rich culinary scene will be one of his key selling points.
"We have more four- and five-star restaurants than New Orleans," he said.
They'll make the point by tempting the palates of New Yorkers.
Nationally known chefs Kent Rathbun of Abacus and Jasper's and Christof Syre of the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas will prepare a dozen of their specialties to serve at a pre-theater reception with bureau clients.
Mr. Rathbun's famous lobster shooters are on the menu, along with other Texas-style specialties such as barbecued duck ravioli and Texas Kobe beef tenderloin skewers with a palm sugar and soy glaze.
Dallas' visitor appeal has taken on greater importance in recent years as competition has heated up for convention business.
Hot spots such as Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla., have lured away many top shows by pitching more options for entertainment.
Dallas has had a tougher time creating that kind of buzz. And in too many cases, the lasting image of Dallas is two decades old.
"The Dallas of J.R. Ewing is long gone," Ms. Miller said. "We are a very hip, sophisticated city."
Dallas isn't just a place for conventions," she said, "it's also a great destination."
Dallas garnered some national attention with the opening of the Nasher Sculpture Center last fall, but the city hasn't traditionally enjoyed much publicity as a visitor destination.
New additions, such as Gilley's Dallas in the southern part of downtown, Uptown's chic West Village and nightclubs along Main Street, have gone unnoticed among event planners and potential conventioneers.
"Dallas hasn't gotten the national publicity it should," Ms. Miller said, pointing to the Trinity River project, with two bridges designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
This is Ms. Miller's first New York marketing trip -- though she's met with possible customers during visits to Washington and Chicago.
"I want them to know that they're important to me, and they're important to the city," she said.
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(c) 2004, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.