On Location: New Orleans

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New Orleans
The new pedestrian park at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

A recent visit during Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) 2023 was more than a celebration, positioning New Orleans as a premier destination for meetings and conventions.

“We are a meetings city, ‘built for hosting,’ ” said Stephanie Turner, senior VP of convention sales & strategies for New Orleans & Company, during a panel discussion with industry executives at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, moderated by New Orleans & Company President and CEO Walter Leger. “Our community depends on meetings, and coming out of the pandemic, it became critical to meet face-to-face.”

“By fourth quarter this year, we will be back to 2019 in-person meeting levels,” said panelist Sherrif Karamat, CAE, president and CEO of PCMA. “New Orleans is a great partner in facilitating that. The hospitality in this city is just amazing.”

With the soon-to-be-renovated Ernest N. Morial Convention Center joined by dozens of meeting hotels, specialized venues and expedient inbound and ground transportation options, the Big Easy also is emerging as a leader in the green travel movement, prioritizing clean energy in an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, as outlined in the city’s 2022 Climate Action Plan.

To that end, the host hotel—and Hyatts across the board—are investing in renewable energy sources, said Michael O’Keith Smith, general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, with more than 200,000 square feet of meeting space in a location near the Caesars Superdome and just over a mile from the French Quarter.

What’s New & What’s Next

A fam following GMID 2023 spotlighted the following venues:

● Producing more than $90 billion in total economic impact since opening in 1985, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is poised for a new century of development with a $557 million capital improvement plan that will refresh and expand interior and exterior spaces as well as add a headquarter hotel and a mixed-use development featuring Topgolf as its anchor tenant. In addition, the center recently joined the “green team,” earning its LEED Gold certification in November 2022.

● Already one of the city’s most popular attractions, the National World War II Museum recently added a spectacular nighttime light show, Expressions of America, highlighting individual soldiers’ stories via their letters to and from home. The museum offers a variety of creative spaces for groups of various sizes.

New Orleans
The brand new Higgins Hotel New Orleans, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection

● Recently opened across from—and fully owned by—the National World War II Museum, the Higgins Hotel New Orleans, Curio Collection by Hilton, is also fully nonprofit, with all proceeds going toward supporting the museum and its programming. All of the hotel’s 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom and breakout rooms, is located on the second floor, while a rooftop bar invites apres-meeting relaxation with sweeping city views.

● Housed in the former World Trade Center, the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans opened in summer 2021. Set on the banks of the Mississippi, the hotel offers a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, including level-three meeting rooms incorporating the original floors from the Trade Center, a large outdoor lawn popular with private events and, at the hotel’s opposite end, a 34th-floor observation deck also available for group functions.

● Accessible on its own or via the Four Seasons’ convention level, Vue Orleans offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the river and city at its tower summit, while private group events take place there or at the second-level, interactive museum. Catering is provided by the Four Seasons, with cocktail parties and seated dinners for 25 attendees among the options.

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