Marketing Matching Grant Program

Is my program eligible for a MGP grant ?

To be considered for funding, your program must be a partnership of at least one non-profit organization involved in the tourism industry and one hotel. The project should represent an innovative and active tourism marketing program that will promote collaborations within and across sectors of the tourism industry as well as draw visitors from more than 150 miles away.  The program must take place in the Greater Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA or one of the following counties: Harris, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston,  Jefferson, Liberty,  Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller  and Washington.

What may I use the awarded funds for?

Examples of eligible uses of grant funds include: 

  • Public relations
  • Paid advertising production and placement (for recognized and audited out-of-region media)
  • Social media campaign
  • Web site development /enhancement and/or search engine optimization targeted to leisure tourists
  • Web-based marketing
  • Video/CD /DVD production
  • Printing and mailing costs for collateral materials including guides, directories and direct mail campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • International marketing opportunities
  • Special marketing opportunities (Familiarization [“FAM”]  tours)
Where do I find the online application form?

The Letter of Intent (required) and the Full Application are available at www.visithouston.com/matchinggrant

What is the process of applying?

A Letter of Intent is required and will be reviewed by the HFC staff.  Once accepted, the       lead organization contact will be notified that the Full Application is available online to be completed.

Are there any opportunities to receive guidance on the grant application?

You may attend one of the grant writing seminars to be offered on either July 19 or August 11.  Details and registration are available at www.visithouston.com/matchinggrant

Do I have to complete the application in one online session?

No, you can begin the application and choose to save your input and finish it at another time.  Just click the “Save” button located at the bottom of each input page.  To return to your application, go to www.houstonfirst.versaic.com.

To ensure no application data is lost, click on the “Finish Later” button at the bottom of each application page.

When will I be contacted after submitting my Letter of Intent (LOI)?

After you submit your LOI, you will receive an email confirmation.  The staff will review the LOI’s as they are received so the Full Application will be released on a rolling basis.  Should your LOI require additional information you will be contacted by a Houston First staff member to discuss ways to strengthen your proposal. If your LOI is accepted, you will be issued an email invitation to complete the Full Application.

Can I mail or email my application?

No; Houston First accepts applications only via the online portal.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

All questions should be emailed to matchinggrant@houstonfirst.com.

What does in-kind contribution include?

In-kind contributions represent the value that the project partners will provide that is not in the form of cash.  This might be discounts off the regular price, coupons, free amenities or experiences, etc.  The value of this in-kind contribution may have to be estimated if the number of program participants is unknown.  For example, if a hotel offers free parking as part of the marketing package, the normal cost of that parking times the number of rooms you believe will be sold as a result of your project, would be the value of in-kind from the hotel partner. Please note:  the value of in-kind contributions cannot exceed 25% of the total partner contributions.

Who makes the decision on which projects are awarded grants?

The applications will be screened and scored initially by a group of Houston First employees and managers.  The recommendations of that Working Group will go to the Joint Tourism Committee of the HFC Board of Directors.  Final decisions are made by the Joint Tourism Committee.

I received a Marketing Matching Grant in 2016. May I re-apply for a 2017 grant?

Yes, you may apply again in 2017 for the  continuation of a successful 2016 program or a new program.

Will I receive my awarded grant amount at the beginning of the year in a lump sum?

We plan to hold a press event and award ceremony in January 2017 to announce the winners of Marketing Matching Grant awards.  At that ceremony, each lead organization will receive ten percent of the total amount awarded.  Thereafter, funds will be distributed on a reimbursement basis for actual costs incurred.  The reimbursement form will be available at www.houstonfirst.versaic.com.