If the calendar for big events is always going to be spotty — even in New Orleans, Super Bowls don’t come along every year — the future of the hospitality industry still is bright.
Hoteliers and industry analysts say that we are in a bit of a soft period for visitors: The next Super Bowl in New Orleans is in 2024, and there’s been a dearth of such big events that attract large numbers of travelers and conventioneers.
At the same time, competition from short-term rentals has dented hotels’ business, and the number of hotels has increased.
While short-term rentals have attracted a lot of attention, because of their impact on residential neighborhoods, the options for visitors in the center of the city have also increased. That latter change has been dramatic: According to industry figures, 13 hotels have opened in the past three years, and 11 more are planned through 2023.
''I'm a little concerned about the next few years,'' Tod Chambers, general manager of The Roosevelt New Orleans in the Central Business District, told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, noting new hotels coming online. ''Our convention pace looks to be off moving into 2021 and 2022.''
Still, and although rates have tended to be flat, last year appears to have been a record, according to STR, a firm that tracks tourism statistics. Hotels sold more than 10 million room nights, not small change by anybody’s standard.
More hotels do mean more competition, but they also provide the region with more capacity for big events when, like Super Bowls, they come to the Crescent City.
Obviously, the nature of big games is that they don’t come every day, but everybody in the business is aware of the value of promotion of the city during national international events.
Tourism by its nature requires constant re-invention, with chic new hotel concepts being part of that process of selling the city anew. But the fundamental attractions of New Orleans’ tourism industry — its culture, food, street life — is enduring. A hotel inventory that includes historic properties like the Roosevelt and the Monteleone is part of the timeless appeal of the city.
Annual events like Essence just concluded are also constants in making New Orleans one of the best places in the world to visit.
With a new airport and plans to expand and improve visitor facilities like the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the city’s capacity to handle travelers is improving. And one day, too, another big event will come along and remind more people that there’s not a better vacation or wedding or conference spot in the world.