Convention Center Shows Off New Safety Protocols
NEW ORLEANS – On Thursday, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center leaders demonstrated coronavirus safety protocols in an effort to show potential customers that the building is ready to host events once city and state virus restrictions allow it.
The convention center has earned an accreditation from the Global BioRisk Advisory Council and hired an industrial hygienist and a protocol advisory firm to assist in efforts to reassure the public that it will be a safe place to gather.
This is all high priority because the center is facing a dire financial forecast. Since the pandemic began, nearly 100 events scheduled to take place at the 3 million-square-foot complex have canceled. There are nearly that many still on the books through the end of 2021 but some of those are likely to scratch as well depending on how long the crisis continues. In addition to losing income from those bookings, the center is also only receiving a fraction of the revenue it normally gets from its share of the city’s hotel tax.
Officials have used the unplanned break to take care of electrical maintenance, painting and bathroom renovations but it’s time to get back to hosting events.
The first two possible bookings are the Wizard World Comic Con and the Blastoff 2021 volleyball tournament both currently scheduled for January. Several Mardi Gras balls are scheduled as well.
Despite the uncertainty, New Orleans & Company CEO Stephen Perry said during a recent Biz New Orleans podcast interview that it’s more important than ever to continue with the center’s planned improvements and developments.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity,” said Perry, who runs the destination marketing organization that sells the city to business and vacation travelers. “The American meeting industry is changing and evolving with new technologies and new layouts right at the moment we’re going through a new capital master plan. That’s the best thing that could have happened for us because we’re in the process of working with our architects and designers and our meeting planner customers to identify the changes that will be a part of the evolution.”