Riding a Wave of Growth

The NOCVB’s new marketing plan will focus on convention sales and international visitors.

In a city like New Orleans, where 9.5 million visitors spent $6.8 billion in 2014, tourism is a key economic generator. And the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) is working to make 2016 another year of positive growth.

NOCVB has released its 2016 Marketing Plan, and it outlines specific strategies concerning sales, marketing, public relations, advocacy, customer service and research. These are broken down by department with specific deliverables in convention sales, leisure tourism, communications and public relations, external affairs, and public affairs.

The convention sales team reports health and medical market segments continue to dominate convention bookings with 279,600 rooms in 2015, and trade, business and commercial coming in second at 142,572 rooms. The remaining eight segments are educational; scientific, engineering, tech; athletics and sports; corporate (general); trade shows and expositions; legal, government, public administration; cultural; and corporate (high-tech).

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Convention sales is increasing its efforts to make New Orleans a top contender for all major convention selection bids. It outlined objectives to drive market share of large-event business with longer-term booking cycles, an increase in exposure to corporate markets and plans to grow short-term and near-term business.

Leisure tourism has identified its key to market growth, which is to increase the number of international visitors. Those tourists tend to stay longer, spend more and are more flexible to midweek travel than domestic visitors. A major boost to its 2016 efforts will occur with hosting the most prestigious international trade show in America, the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW. The trade show has the potential to capture an additional 500,000 visitors over the next three years to reach 1 million international visitors by 2018.

The communications and public relations team will work to increase the number of positive stories about New Orleans in publications and broadcast. It will proactively target influential members of the travel media and work to develop customized itineraries based on a journalist’s assignment. It will also seek to strengthen the New Orleans brand through social media channels.

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External affairs works with NOCVB members to connect them to customers. It also communicates the impact of the visitor economy to members, local leaders and community organizations.

Public affairs focuses on relationships and has developed a six-step advocacy plan for community engagement and civic leadership.

The team will be addressing questions such as, “How can we provide meaningful jobs in the growing hospitality industry for the chronically underemployed?”; “How do we identify the targets of economic opportunity in New Orleans?”; and “”How can the hospitality and tourism industry continue to work with other industries and anchor institutions to design a blueprint for the future of New Orleans?”

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A major change in the NOCVB website is on deck for 2016. The bureau is working to merge its website— NewOrleansCVB.com — with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. (NOTMC) website — NewOrleansOnline.com. The new site, NewOrleans.com, is scheduled for completion by the middle of this year.

NOCVB and NOTMC work closely together on marketing campaigns, including the current “Follow your NOLA” campaign. NOTMC is also in the planning stages for a spring launch of a new tourism campaign.

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.


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