NEW ORLEANS—The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has appointed global public relations firm Weber Shandwick to bring visitors back to the city and reinvigorate the New Orleans tourism business. Weber Shandwick’s New York-based travel and lifestyle practice will develop a 10-market media tour and a series of events to showcase New Orleans culture in major metropolitan cities.
Launching in New York City this spring, the tour will promote the destination for leisure travelers and for conventions and meetings to meeting professionals, associations and corporate decision makers and is one component of a broader public relations and marketing communications campaign to re-brand and reposition the city and overcome misperceptions about the New Orleans visitor experience.
“Among the important messages we want to deliver across the nation is that New Orleans still remains one of the most authentic, historic and culturally- rich destinations in the world, a place where when you visit your molecules are rearranged,” says Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans CVB. “And we want to let people know that the time to visit is now. New Orleans is ready; certainly the hospitality industry is ready. And that visitor experience that you know from visiting in the past or imagine prior to coming is alive, in some ways even better.”
The campaign will bring one of New Orleans’ iconic green streetcars to select cities, showcasing historic elements of the city’s culture and will incorporate the theme “Forever New Orleans,” a branding message recently unveiled by the NOCVB and the local hospitality community. According to Perry, the message of Forever New Orleans is “about honoring the rich past upon which we’ve built this city’s dynamic and undeniable spirit… [and] about renewal and promise. It is this message that we hope to showcase in the media tour.”
Other components of the marketing campaign include a series of advertisements to be used in outdoor and print campaigns; a 30-minute travel television show, “A Whole New Orleans,” showcasing the eclectic nature and vibrant culture of the city; and a series of limited edition posters showcasing the artwork of local and regional artists.
Tourism accounts for 35 percent of the City of New Orleans’ annual operating budget, historically bringing in around $210 million that helps pays for jobs, safety, transit, and infrastructure. Tourism also employs the largest segment of the population from across the region. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans lost more than $2 billion in business from business and leisure travelers.
“We need to remind the world that New Orleans is a place where culture bubbles up from the street, where 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,” says Perry. “Our marketing campaign is ultimately about New Orleans being a great place to live, work and visit. We must fill our hotels, have our restaurants brimming with diners, ensure that our galleries, shops and boutiques from the French Quarter to Magazine Street are filled with eager customers.”
He says Weber Shandwick was selected in part for its reach in international markets where the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has a presence.
“Everyone wants to contribute to the future success of New Orleans and the most helpful thing anyone can do is book a trip to visit the city right now,” says Rene Mack, president of the firm’s travel and lifestyle Practice. “Not just because tourism is essential to the health of New Orleans but because it is our country’s most authentic and culturally rich city. New Orleans is part of our national soul and we are honored to contribute to such an important campaign.”