Stephen Perry

CEO, New Orleans & Company

Heading tourism in its most difficult days

Since the pandemic put New Orleans’ sizzling hot visitor economy on ice, the city’s tourism professionals have been supporting health and safety efforts while working to keep the New Orleans brand at the forefront of travelers’ future plans.

Nobody has been more involved in the process than Stephen Perry and his team at New Orleans & Company, the destination marketing agency that promotes the city to business and leisure travelers.

“Our priority has always been twofold,” said Perry. “First, to keep our locals and visitors safe during the pandemic through sanitizing and safety programs at restaurants, hotels and the convention center. Second, we work daily across many platforms to bring the originality and authenticity of New Orleans culture to the world to create billions of dollars in future spending, tens of thousands of jobs and a huge part of city revenue and services.”

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In his role as the city’s top salesperson, Perry talks to more Fortune 500 CEOs on a frequent basis than probably any other Louisiana executive. All those contacts should prove crucial as the city plans for a post-vaccine scenario.

“Our sales staff is in constant communication with our clients, and our earned media through PR efforts is critical,” he said. “We have launched campaigns supporting our local restaurants and attractions and we ran a ‘road trip’ campaign in our regional drive [markets] to keep our brand top of mind.”

The stakes are high.

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Since March, New Orleans has lost about $200 million each week in “visitor spend” across all platforms: airlines, transportation, hotels, retail, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, music venues and cultural attractions.

“That’s an extraordinary amount of money to take out of a city this small,” said Perry, who has been lobbying for more federal aid to increase his marketing budget.

Experts say it will take until 2024 for New Orleans to climb back to 2019 levels of tourism income. Regardless, Perry is hopeful about the future.

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“We learned after Katrina, and especially now during COVID-19, that the greater the challenge, the greater the resolve,” said Perry. “That resolve drives me to lead this incredible world class team of sales and marketing professionals whose work drives a $10 billion economy and 100,000 regional jobs and benefits people residing on every street in every neighborhood of our beloved New Orleans. New Orleans is so beloved as a brand. We are optimistic about the future and believe that we will emerge from a challenging year.”

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