Google Promotes New Orleans School Of Cooking As An E-Commerce Success

WASHINGTON – Google released its annual Economic Impact Report, a study highlighting the economic benefits received by businesses and nonprofits across the country through the continued growth of e-commerce, and featured The New Orleans School of Cooking as one of the country’s e-commerce success stories.

         “Google is well known for helping people search for and find the information they want,” said Margo Georgiadis, Google’s President of Americas Sales. “Through our search and advertising programs, businesses find customers, publishers earn money from their online content and nonprofits get donations and volunteers. The Economic Impact Report details how millions of businesses use our tools to make money. It’s these solutions that make Google an engine for economic growth.”

         “Without the Internet, our recovery from Hurricane Katrina would have taken far longer,” Greg Leighton, owner of The New Orleans School of Cooking, said.

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         Founded in 1980, the business offers cooking demonstrations, group events, and hands-on classes in the basics of local cuisine, as well as a retail store featuring culinary products and their own house brands. After acquiring the business in 1997, Leighton developed a website to offer online booking and gradually moved into e-commerce. “That’s made a huge difference,” he explained.

         Leighton said the Internet also helped the school bounce back after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, shaving years off their recovery by letting them do business online. “Exposure to all the products that Google has to assist us is tremendous,” Leighton said.

         Leighton said he’s redesigning the website based on data he has collected through Google Analytics, with a particular focus on optimizing for mobile and for AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “With AdWords, our website, and Google Analytics, we really have an opportunity to increase the business significantly,” he said.

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         Leighton also plans to maximize their exposure by sharing their “many video-friendly moments” through YouTube, and social media.

         “We’re celebrating our 35th year in business in 2015,” Leighton said. “We had a setback with Katrina, but we are beyond back on track.”

         Leighton reports a steady 10 percent annual growth and has hired additional marketing staff to help with online initiatives. Today, more than 90 percent of their bookings are online, and Leighton estimates that one-third to one-half of reservations are directly related to their Internet marketing.

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         Since the school has limited room for physical growth, Leighton said he’s planning to focus their efforts online and on building their retail brand.

         “If you take advantage of what the Internet offers, I can’t see how you can help but grow,” he said.

         The city of Mandeville, LA, was also awarded a Google’s eCity distinction, recognizing it as the strongest online business community in the state.

         In 2014, Google's tools helped provide $131 billion of economic activity for 1.8 million American businesses, website publishers and nonprofits.

         Google reports it helped provide $200 million of economic activity for 10,000 Louisiana businesses and $535,000 of free advertising for Louisiana non-profits through the Google Ad Grants program.

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