| Destinations - April 2007 |
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans reigned as one of America’s premier destinations for citywide association conventions. As a result, corporate meeting planners often faced a formidable challenge in finding available room blocks at the most desirable times of year. Since Katrina, however, the Crescent City, celebrated around the world for its vibrant and singular culture for nearly a century, has emerged as a wildly popular new corporate meeting destination, and one that has brought a unique new twist to a planner’s arsenal — community service as a 21st century teambuilding exercise.“We booked New Orleans because it’s one of our favorite cities,” said Charlotte Stevenson, vice president of development, western region, at New York-based recruitment advertising agency TMP Worldwide. Stevenson brought TMP’s annual meeting to New Orleans, a sales and management conference for 115 attendees, in January. “It’s a wonderful, charming place to be,” she said. “The food is incredible. The accommodations are excellent, and the weather is pleasant. In summary, It’s just a fabulous destination. It was also the most enjoyable meeting planning experience — I never once got a feeling that something couldn’t be done. The word ‘no’ never came out of anyone’s mouth. It was flawless.”
Lisa Vieira, field marketing manager at Sunnyvale, CA-based Omneon, which sells media servers to broadcast clients, selected New Orleans for an annual reseller training meeting that drew 85 attendees from North and South America in early February. “We wanted to go someplace sort of centrally located in the U.S., and from a business point of view, you can get good rates in New Orleans right now,” said Vieira, who plans about 35 meetings a year. “We also wanted a place that was a little warmer since it was winter. We also thought it would be great to bring some business to New Orleans. But New Orleans is just a desirable location. It’s culturally interesting. It’s fun and the food is great. People love New Orleans. It’s a place people are happy to go to for a conference.”
The New Orleans skyline soars along with the spirits of the many attendees who have come to the city not only for meetings but to participate in rebuilding projects that take teambuilding to the next level.
Photo by Harry Costne, courtesy of New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau
Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, added, “New Orleans truly is the only American city where culture bubbles up from the street. When you wake up and look around, you realize you are in a place that is truly unique and authentic, a place where your molecules get rearranged. We are so grateful to the corporate planners who are discovering why New Orleans always has been and always will be a city with a soul. And our soul is waterproof.”
A Host Of Options
For the Diversified Brands division of Cleveland-based paint and coatings manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, New Orleans delivered a memorable three-day national sales meeting for 550 attendees from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Great Britain in January. “New Orleans provided a whole host of options for us to spend leisure time with our people,” said Adam Chafe, divisional vice president of marketing, who plans his one major sales meeting a year. “That’s what made it really great. The culture of the city also makes it easy to build themes and to match the food and the music to your events, especially for things like award ceremonies.”
Jeff Terry, former director, corporate commitment and strategic relationships at Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, MI, played a special role in the company’s five-day sales meeting for 1,130 attendees in
January. He created its community service day of work for Habitat for Humanity. Despite the specific focus of his involvement, he was charmed by the city.
A jazz trumpeter carries on the legacy of New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz. Attendees can sample sweet and soulful sounds at jazz clubs and music halls throughout the city, many of which accommodate groups.
Photo by Richard Nowitz, courtesy of NOMCVB
“The thing that makes New Orleans very special and that always has made it very special, is the spirit of the city and the people,” said Terry, who planned five to 10 major community service and outreach events a year as part of major Whirlpool meetings, “and I think it’s shining through as much, if not more so, than before. The dynamic of the city and the culture is even more special now to the people who come in and participate in meetings than it ever has been.”
Debbie Tollifson, director, event marketing at cleaning and sanitation product supplier Ecolab in St. Paul, MN, agrees wholeheartedly with that assessment. “Everybody was elated,” she said of the 600-plus management and sales team attendees who gathered for the company’s six-day annual Institutional Leadership Meeting last December. “All of our attendees were extremely excited that we were there. The experience of the culture was just phenomenal.” Tollifson, who plans 25 to 30 meetings a year, including board meetings and incentive trips, added that this was the first time the company had ever chosen a destination based on extenuating circumstances — the devastation of Katrina — and that the choice paid extraordinary dividends.
Building For The Future
Despite its time-honored allure, the post-Katrina New Orleans offers an exceptional opportunity for companies whose ethic of good corporate citizenship includes community service work as an important ingredient in a successful meeting.
“Because we acquired Maytag and combined sales forces a year ago, the theme for our meeting this year was ‘Building for the Future,’” said Terry. “What we really focused on was creating an even stronger and greater sales organization. We’ve been a leader, as a sales organization, within our industry. This meeting was really focused on continuing to build a stronger foundation for our sales team. So, one of the things that we wanted to accomplish over the course of this week, and one of the reasons for bringing this meeting to New Orleans, was to focus on working together and living the values at the heart of our company. We were able to do that in New Orleans, by helping to be a part of the rebuilding effort that is taking place there.” More than 800 employees of Whirlpool, which is a Cornerstone Partner of Habitat for Humanity and donates a stove and refrigerator to every new Habitat home in North America, spent a day building walls for 35 homes in Musicians Village, the labor of love launched by local jazz legends Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis.
For Tollifson’s group, a day of clean-up service in the ravaged and still largely deserted Ninth Ward served as an innovative teambuilding exercise. “In the past, all of our meeting-related teambuilding has been competitive,” she said. “This was the first time we did something collaborative, and it was a huge success. Management was like, ‘This is great,’ and I can tell you that to this day, I still get phone calls from my guys in the field who say, ‘That was the best thing we ever did.’”
Chafe had the same experience. “Community service has never been a part of our meeting culture before,” he said. In New Orleans, Sherwin-Williams employees fanned out across the city to offer help at Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers of America, Metropolitan Battered Women’s Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank, City Park of New Orleans, New Orleans Recovery School District, and the local chapter of ASPCA. Attendees were asked to select the activity that most appealed to them personally. “I think the most compelling thing that came out of our doing that,” said Chafe, “was how many of our folks asked not only that it become a permanent part of our annual meeting, but also if we could keep going back to New Orleans for a few years.”
Vieira stressed that the lesson she and other planners have learned is one that should be learned by all. Forty of her attendees were bussed to the Storyland children’s area of City Park of New Orleans, where they painted the wrought iron fence, added mulch to the garden and planted shrubbery. Omneon paid for all supplies. “If you spend time in New Orleans,” Vieira said, “you understand why we all need to go there. We all need to do that.”
Not A Charity Case
Despite the transformational power that planners like Chafe and Vieira attribute to the unprecedented opportunity New Orleans offers for companies to give something back to a community, they and others stress that the cradle of Cajun and Creole cultures, which have contributed, among other things, Dixieland jazz and jambalaya to the American experience, should be appreciated for exactly what it is — and that it is back after Katrina and better than ever.
Vieira housed her group at the AAA Four Diamond-rated, 600-room Hotel Monteleone, billed as “the French Quarter’s only historic and literary landmark,” which features more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space. “It’s a cool, individual property,” Vieira said. “I visited a lot of the hotels in New Orleans. There are a lot of beautiful hotels, but to me, Monteleone felt like New Orleans.”
Vieira staged an opening night welcome reception, with roast suckling pig and barbecued shrimp, in the hotel’s Vieux Carre room, which offers dramatic views of the French Quarter, Jackson Square and the Mississippi River. After meetings the next day, Omneon held its awards banquet in a private room at
Arnaud’s, one of the city’s oldest and most acclaimed French Quarter restaurants. After the next day’s meetings, the group enjoyed a Mardi Gras dinner at Bourbon Vieux, a 3,500-square-foot private venue with a balcony overlooking the never-ending party that is Bourbon Street. “We had a bunch of guys and a bunch of Mardi Gras beads,” Vieira said with a laugh, “so all of a sudden they were acting like teenagers. People were in good spirits. I can safely say that was a corporate event that everyone will remember.”
Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, the recently updated, 1,616-room Hilton New Orleans Riverside features 134,000 square feet of meeting space.
Photo courtesy of Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Final Day Fun
The final day offered optional fun”events, including golf at the Tournament Players Club, located 20 minutes away in Avondale and the only PGA Tour stop in Louisiana. Other attendees took a leisurely city tour.
Stevenson also selected the 121-year-old, family-owned Hotel Monteleone. “We wanted to stay in the French Quarter,” she said. “We also prefer to work with family-owned, luxury properties. The service is much more personalized. I really felt like I was working with family and friends. It was the best experience I have ever had with a hotel.” She hosted TMP Worldwide’s opening night reception in the Iberville and Bienville rooms, with six working balconies, on the hotel’s mezzanine level. A buffet dinner featured oysters Rockefeller, jambalaya, gumbo, a carving station and fabled local creation bananas Foster for dessert. After a general session and afternoon breakouts the next day, Stevenson sent her attendees on a dine-around that included four of the area’s most renowned eateries – Arnaud’s, Irene’s, Bacco and Brennan’s. After a client discussion panel the following day, Stevenson held the company’s awards banquet in the Riverview Room atop Hotel Monteleone, overlooking the Mississippi. The next day, TMP Worldwide’s sales and management teams worked to help restore famed Storyland, a fairy-tale theme park adjacent to City Park’s Carousel Gardens and New Orleans Botanical Garden.
Tollifson’s goal was to take full advantage of the uniqueness of New Orleans, from start to finish. She kicked off her meeting with a casual Cajun-themed opening night banquet at the 1,110-room Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, where she housed her group. The property features 105,000 square feet of meeting space. The event featured crawfish races, a photo-op with an alligator and a Dixieland Jazz band. The next night, she took her attendees for an evening aboard a paddleboat on the Mississippi. The following night, she rented out The Foundry, a new special events venue at Bella Luna restaurant 11¼2 blocks from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The Foundry can host groups of up to 1,000. “It was just a phenomenal venue,” Tollifson said. “The food was fantastic.” Challenged with topping that experience, she bought out the House of Blues the next night, and ended her meeting with a dinner at Muriel’s on Jackson Square.
She gave high marks to everyone she dealt with for the extraordinary assistance she got with her meeting. “I have never been around a staff — not just at the Sheraton, but everywhere that we were — where everybody was so warm and grateful for the business,” Tollifson said. “They stepped up to the plate better than any place I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been in this business for 20 years.” Based on the experience, she thinks it’s likely Ecolab will return to New Orleans. “I would love to go back,” she said.
Mardi Gras World
Sherwin-Williams had a similarly fabulous experience. After an opening general session that included remarks by divisional and group presidents followed by breakouts, Chafe hosted a casual cocktail reception at the group’s hotel, the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. The following evening, he rented out Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, where attendees can see artists and sculptors creating floats for the famous parades that highlight the world-famous annual celebration. The group enjoyed a sit-down dinner, followed by a performance by one of New Orleans’ most critically acclaimed Cajun-Zydeco recording artists, Rockin’ Dopsie. “They were fantastic,” Chafe said. “Then we had a Mardi Gras parade with our team dressed in costumes, and we had a full high school marching band.”
After a busy meeting agenda the next day, Chafe hosted what he called “the capstone” of his meeting — a formal awards ceremony, hosted by CEO Chris Connor and COO John Morikis in the main ballroom at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, where more than 60 key employees received recognition and prizes ranging from cash to trips.
Mardi Gras revelers pack the streets and balconies in the French Quarter. The 2007 Mardi Gras was a resounding success, attracting crowds of nearly 800,000 spectators.
Photo by Romney Caruso, courtesy of New Orleans Metropolitan CVB
Given the more serious strategic underpinnings of the Whirlpool meeting, and the company’s major commitment to its community service project, Terry’s attendees tended to stay close together and close to home at the 1,616-room Hilton New Orleans Riverside, which features 134,000 square feet of meeting space.
Whirlpool hosted an opening night banquet in the main ballroom, under the theme “Building for the Future,” which served as a dual theme for the company’s newly integrated Whirlpool and Maytag sales forces and the huge Habitat for Humanity task they would undertake later.
“We made sure we stayed very close together,” Terry said. “We did pretty much everything at the hotel, and we focused each general session and evening event in and around those things that are very much a part of and embodiment of what Whirlpool Corporation is, and what our sales team is all about. So, it wasn’t about let’s come together and throw a big party. It was let’s come together and build a stronger team.” New Orleans, he said, yielded spectacular results.
Open For Business
Kelly Schulz, vice president of communications and public relations at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, stressed that such accolades represent the essence of the message the CVB wants to get out to corporate planners. “Our number-one goal is to have planners understand that New Orleans is open for business and that traditionally, New Orleans has not been looked at as a corporate meeting destination,” she said. “We’re now becoming an emerging destination for corporate meetings. Planners can come here with shorter booking times, and we have space available. We also have a wealth of volunteerism opportunities. There’s such a good fit with what a lot of corporations are doing with their corporate philanthropic efforts or employee morale programs. That fits in so well with coming to New Orleans and participating in a community service event. What happened in New Orleans is unprecedented, and people want to help the city. And there’s no greater way to help the city than to come here and support our number-one industry, which is tourism and conventions.”
Forever New Orleans
To help rebuild the city’s preeminence as a meeting and convention destination, the CVB has launched an aggressive and comprehensive rebranding campaign under the theme “Forever New Orleans,” assisted by an advisory board that includes Christine Duffy, CEO of Maritz Travel and Mike Greto of Coca-Cola Co. “We want to let people know the warm New Orleans visitor experience is alive and well,” Schulz said.
Maria Irwin is director of marketing and managing partner of Signature Destination Management, one of the
most highly regarded DMCs in New Orleans. Her clients include Constellation Brands and BMW Motorcycles. About 70 percent of her business is corporate.
Attendees can opt for gaming action at the Harrah’s New Orleans Casino & Hotel. The newly constructed 450-room hotel tower opened last fall.
Photo courtesy of Harrah’s New Orleans Casino & Hotel
She emphasized that planners should strive to partake of the very best New Orleans has to offer, and that often it is the less well-known experience that truly sets a meeting apart.
“One of the biggest best-kept secrets is Frenchman Street in the Foubourg-Marigny district,” Irwin said. “It’s just outside the French Quarter, a little strip of restaurants and clubs, where you can hear great jazz and New Orleans bands.”
She also recommended the Warehouse Arts District, home of The Foundry, posh live entertainment venue Generation Hall, great restaurants such as Emeril’s, art galleries and wine bars.
For a true taste of Cajun-Creole culture, Irwin suggested a Saturday night Zydeco dance in the bayou country. One of the best known meeting venues is Bayou Barn, on the west bank of the Mississippi, where a shrimp or crawfish boil can be combined with airboat tours of Lafitte Swamp.
Latrobe’s on Royal, the historic Louisiana State Bank building in the Quarter, built in 1820, is a marvelous new venue that can accommodate 400. In the Garden District, which is home to Commander’s Palace, arguably the most historically acclaimed restaurant in New Orleans, a streetcar tour down St. Charles Avenue can culminate in a private dinner party for groups of up to 120 at one of the American Greek Revival mansions that make that historic neighborhood a world architectural treasure.
An hour outside the city, on the Mississippi River, are two exceptional offsite venues — Houmas House, the Gothic mansion where Bette Davis filmed “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” and Laura Plantation.
“Planners should really take advantage of the culture that’s here,” said Irwin, “because you’re not going to find it anywhere else. And by culture, I don’t mean an art gallery. I mean the people, the places, the food and the music.”
A Destination Unlike Any Other
Planners who have taken groups to New Orleans since Katrina say it is an unforgettable experience that combines good corporate citizenship with truly unforgettable meetings.
“My V.P. of Marketing actually came up to me on the last day of the meeting,” Vieira noted, “and said, ‘Why do we have to go to a different city every year? New Orleans is perfect for us. We should come back next year.’”
Stevenson had an even more profound experience. “We don’t conduct formal post-event surveys,” she said. “But I can tell you that the feedback I received was that this meeting was the best one we’ve ever had — hands down. I actually received thank-you cards from people.
“What you find in New Orleans you don’t find anywhere else,” Stevenson continued. “For every meeting I plan, I go in early and leave late. But I wasn’t ready to leave New Orleans, and I’m always ready to leave. I just didn’t want to go home. To me, that says a tremendous amount about the city and people of New Orleans. It’s a wonderful destination, and one that I look forward to visiting again.” C&IT
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center:
Any Meeting, Any Size
Located in the heart of the Warehouse Arts district, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has a new lease on life after the nightmare of Katrina. Ranking as the sixth largest convention center in the U.S., with 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space in 12 separate but combinable halls under one roof on one level, the center offers cutting-edge flexibility and exemplary customer service. 140 upper level meeting rooms total 232,827 square feet.
The facility features a 4,032-seat auditorium, with the latest video and audio-visual technology, that can be configured for groups as small as 2,400, and two luxurious ballrooms measuring 30,487 and 36,448 square feet.
The multilevel facility’s technological capabilities are second to none. Its fiber optic backbone and one-stop tech shop deliver big bandwidth and superior expertise. High-speed Internet access is available via a Tier-1 provider, with T-3, T-1, ISDN and land-phone line connectivity, Wi-Fi in public areas, wireless satellite uplinks and downlinks, videoconferencing, video streaming and webcasting.
“We are a brand new facility,” said Keith Levey, director of sales. “The renovation pushed up updates we were going to do later but went ahead with. We’re now one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country.”
Like other convention centers, Morial is starting to see more corporate meeting business. “The main message we want to get out is that pre-Katrina, from the mid-’90s on, there was a big convention boom in New Orleans and you couldn’t get space,” Levey said. “Now, we tell clients that we can do any meeting, any size. Anything from a general session to a big F&B function. And we’ll do it in spectacular fashion.”
Dining And Entertainment
Culinary delights abound in the Big Easy, with endless dining choices from famed classic French, Italian and Spanish restaurants that remain unceasingly faithful to their roots, and Cajun and Creole flavors that can only be found in New Orleans. Famous chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Susan Spicer and 2006 James Beard winner John Besh make dining out an event in itself.
According to the Louisiana Restaurant Association, there are 743 restaurants open in Orleans Parish alone, 90 percent of pre-Katrina totals. These include restaurants in the French Quarter, downtown, Warehouse Arts District, Garden District and Uptown New Orleans. This number also includes 18 major new restaurants that have opened in the metro area, such as Iris, Chef Donald Link’s new Cochon, La Boca, 7 on Fulton and Tommy’s Wine Bar. Renowned culinary favorites open for business include Galatoire’s, Emeril’s, K-Paul’s, Bayona, Cuvee, to name only a few. Many of the city’s favorite neighborhood hotspots such as Mother’s Restaurant, Ralph’s on the Park, Clancy’s, Café du Monde, and Tommy’s Cuisine are also welcoming diners. Readers of New Orleans Magazine recently voted Galatoire’s and Bayona as best restaurants, followed by Commander’s Palace and Restaurant August. Galatoire’s was also voted best restaurant for Creole food and K-Paul’s best restaurant for Cajun food. Cochon was named as best new restaurant. Here’s a sampling (maximum capacity for banquet/reception room noted at the end of some listings):
Bayona. Chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant, housed in a 200-year-old Creole Cottage, is renowned for its eclectic global cuisine. 504-525-4455. (30/30)
Brennan’s. A culinary phenomenon since 1946, the popular Brennan’s has created some of the world’s most famous and imaginative dishes.
Cafe du Monde. Since 1862, the original French Market coffee stand. Serving cafe au lait and beignets 24 hours daily. 504-587-0833.
Galatoire’s. French Creole bistro located in Vieux Carre. Frequented by locals. Noted for fresh local seafood.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s legendary establishment became an overnight sensation soon after its 1979 opening. Open-air kitchens allow
diners to see how each delectable dish is prepared. Specialties of the house include bronzed fish with hot fanny sauce and sweet potato pecan pie with chantilly cream. 504-524-7394. (200/200)
Chef Emeril Lagasse welcomes diners to his three New Orleans restaurants, Emeril’s with its classic Louisiana cuisine, Emeril’s Delmonico, which features creole cuisine and NOLA, Emeril’s French Quarter bistro.
Photo by William C. Minarich
Brigtsen’s. A native of New Orleans, Chef Frank Brigtsen pays tribute to the traditions of classic south Louisiana cuisine in a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
Central Business District
Cuvee. Embraces the culinary traditions of France and Spain in a contemporary New Orleans cuisine. Boutique wineries of five continents. 504-587-9001.
Mother’s Restaurant. A local favorite with classic New Orleans ambience and home cooking, with gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etoufee, and more. Breakfast all day. private party room. 504-523-2917. (160/275)
Restaurant August. Chef John Besh, winner of the 2006 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast, prepares contemporary French cuisine with an emphasis on ingredients indigenous to Louisiana. Fine dining with exceptional service and atmosphere.
Emeril’s. Chef Emeril Lagasse’s flagship restaurant is in a renovated warehouse in the Arts District. A chef’s bar in the dining room seats eight and is one of the hottest seats in the restaurant. 504-528-9393. (88/100)
Herbsaint. French-American bistro co-owned by Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona. Enjoy casual fine dining accentuated by Executive Chef Donald Link’s flavorful dishes. Separate dining room for private parties up to 50. 504-524-4114. (55/55)
All That Jazz And More
New Orleans loves her food, but it’s her music that feeds the soul. When it comes to musical tastes, no city serves it up better than New Orleans’ jazz clubs where musicians honor the city’s legacy as the birthplace of jazz. From street performers to jazz clubs and houses of blues, to symphonies and rock concerts, New Orleans is a melting pot of musical inspiration and innovation. Readers of New Orleans Magazine recently named Snug Harbor as best jazz club, followed by Preservation Hall, a venerable music venue in the heart of the French Quarter. Here’s a sampling of just some of the many popular jazz clubs and music halls.
Krazy Korner. The fun place to party on Bourbon Street. Hosting local bands as they perform jazz, and rhythm and blues. Many famous musicians check out the local music here. 504-586-9843.
Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. Dedicated to the preservation of Live Dixieland Jazz for more than 30 years. 504-522-8818.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the venerable music venue Preservation Hall features traditional New Orleans jazz. The facility is available for corporate events and can accommodate from 10 to 300 attendees.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman
Tipitina’s. Features the best of French Quarter ambience and New Orleans jazz with a view of the Mississippi River. Works well for seated dinners, receptions, luncheons, seminars and concerts. 504-566-7095.
Mahogany Blue. A talented world-traveled female trio provides rhythm and blues, soul and pop entertainment for events. 504-258-0681.
Palm Court Jazz Cafe Inc. Fine Creole dining with live traditional jazz. Stars and legends perform nightly in a unique, casually elegant atmosphere of old New Orleans. 504-525-0200.
Old Opera House. Home to many famous New Orleans performing artists. Don’t be surprised to see a celebrity musician jamming with the house crowd. 504-586-9843.
House of Blues. Regional and international cuisine in a casual juke joint setting. Live music in the showroom nightly. Rousing gospel brunch on Sundays. 504-310-4999.
Last but not least, attendees who love to shop ’til they drop can explore the Riverwalk Marketplace with its 140+ shops and food outlets, or The Shops at Canal Place, situated in the heart of New Orleans at the edge of the French Quarter, and Jax Brewery. Anchor store Saks Fifth Avenue is open, as are boutiques, art galleries and antique shops throughout the city.
NewOrleansRestaurants.com offers your attendees online restaurant reservations at more than 35 popular area restaurants. View menus and recipes, as well as interactive and printable maps. For private parties, submit one group request and have all replies sent to you.
The Superdome as Super-Venue
It is the largest and most recognizable public assembly facility on Earth. It has hosted six Super Bowls and four NCAA Final Fours. The Pope addressed 80,000 schoolchildren beneath its iconic roof. The Rolling Stones played to the largest indoor concert audience in history there.
Photo by Toby Valadie
It is the Louisiana Superdome — and now that it has undergone a $185 million, post-Katrina renovation, of which $50 million was improvements, including complete renovation of four 20,000-square-foot club rooms, it has become a popular discovery for corporate meeting clients, including behemoths such as Honda and PeopleSoft, or smaller players such as wine-and-spirits supplier William Grant & Sons of Edison, NJ.
Between August and January, the playing field turf remains down, so planners looking for a spectacular teambuilding exercise can stage a punt, pass and kick competition (via The Manning Football Experience) that includes fog machines, confetti cannons and new ProStar LED boards that can put the names of attendees up in lights.
The newly renovated Louisiana Superdome (top right photo) is a unique venue where corporate groups can stage events on the field as well as in 20,000-square-foot club rooms. (Above) A Mardi Gras float parades around the Superdome entertaining attendees.
Photo by Toby Valadie
William Grant & Sons hosted a Superdome party on January 31 for 65 attendees as part of a national sales and marketing meeting themed “Play Like A Champion.”
“We had refreshments and played touch football in the home of the Super Bowl,” said Karen Grant, national sales coordinator. “Everyone loved it. They were really in awe. It was a really good bonding event.”
“The Superdome is a totally unique venue,” said Director of Corporate and Convention Sales Jennifer Cooke. “No matter where you ever go or what you ever do for a meeting, this is one that will be at the top of your all-time memory list.”