New Orleans & Company’s Plan of Attack

New Orleans & Company’s 2020 marketing plan positions the organization to find success, even in adversity.

ILLUSTRATION BY TONY HEALEY

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.


 

While COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a measurable effect on tourism, the staff at New Orleans & Company — the city’s nationally accredited destination marketing organization — is organized and mobilizing on a detailed 2020 marketing plan designed to attract both business and leisure travelers to the city.

“The plan is our playbook,” said Mark Romig, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of New Orleans & Company. “It is our roadmap for success and to positively impact our city’s economy — both from a standpoint of job sustainability and creation, and also tax revenue creation for the city and the state.”

Romig officially joined the New Orleans & Company team in January, when the marketing staff of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) was absorbed by New Orleans and Company. The plan identifies this change as one that unifies the city’s business and leisure visitor marketing efforts and positions them to be executed by a single cohesive team.

NUMBERS EXPECTED TO SLOW BUT STAY STRONG

New Orleans tourism has been stronger than ever in recent years. The city welcomed 18.5 million visitors in 2018, a 5% increase over the previous record set in 2017. Those visitors spent $9 billion, also a 5% increase over 2017. Even before COVID-19, however, New Orleans & Company reported it was expecting slow to moderate growth in the near term, followed by a three-year soft period where tourism would continue to grow, but at a lower rate than it has in the recent past. At the same time, however, it expressed confidence in its resources, personnel, strategies and tactics to find success during this period.

The marketing plan addresses five focus areas — convention sales and services, leisure tourism, public affairs, marketing and communications, and external affairs. Each focus area has five or more objectives and tactics.

1. CONVENTION SALES AND SERVICES This team works to attract business travelers by promoting and positioning the city as a world-class meeting, convention and exhibition destination using direct sales and marketing strategies aimed at meeting planning professionals and executive decision makers. In 2020, they aim to increase production into the 30-month window, distribute more than 800 leads and referrals to their members annually, and create and execute a comprehensive convention sales marketing strategy.

2. LEISURE TOURISM Focused on domestic and international tour operators, travel agents, travel packagers, online travel agencies, social group planners and cruise lines, this team aims to increase New Orleans sales and product packaging in domestic and international leisure markets, increase visitation through social leisure groups, support and promote cruise and airline growth, and develop and execute a multi- channel domestic group and international marketing and advertising plan.

3. PUBLIC AFFAIRS This team works to clearly and consistently communicate New Orleans & Company’s core values with their partners and stakeholders. They will focus on workforce development and building local programs that encourage fair access, treatment, opportunity and advancement for all.

4. MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS New in 2020, this team is a combination of the domestic leisure tourism marketing team and the communications and public relations team whose job is to create editorial content and new campaigns and to protect the city’s reputation as a destination through crisis management strategies.

5. EXTERNAL AFFAIRS This team is tasked with fostering positive relationships with members, local businesses, nonprofits and city government to ensure visitors have an exceptional experience. They will focus on educating members about the resources available to them, promoting member services, and recognizing key contributors to the New Orleans tourism industry.

Romig says the plan is solid, even as the situation with COVID-19 unfolds.

“We are obviously monitoring COVID-19 and responding to our customers’ inquiries with current travel updates from the CDC, WHO, and local and state officials,” said Romig. “The national and international impact of COVID-19 will likely cause us to recalibrate. This is a very fluid situation, but we also have one of the nation’s best destination marketing teams to meet the challenges ahead.”