We’ve all probably heard the saying “business in the front, party in the back,” usually in reference to mullet or the cinematic gold of Joe Dirt. But how about “party in the front, business in the back”? New Orleans is often hailed for its rich culture of food, festivals, music, and partying, all wrapped up in a beautifully diverse melting pot of history. Visitors may actually forget that New Orleans is one of the top business and association meeting spots in the Southeast region.
Home to a lengthy roster of annual conventions and conferences, New Orleans is a hotspot for groups across both professional and leisure industries. From the massive New Orleans Gift and the Jewelry Show to major conferences for medical associations, the city is a host to a multitude of events. With over 150 hotels and more than 1.6 million square feet of convention center space, New Orleans is the perfect city for corporate group trips. Conduct business by day at one of several convention centers, then enjoy nightlife along famous Bourbon Street. If your business or association is planning a group trip to the south for a business venture, follow this handy-dandy guide to NOLA for groups of business travelers.
With dozens upon dozens of conventions and events being held annually, New Orleans is sure to attract plenty of traffic during peak travel season. If your business is traveling with multiple employees or colleagues for a trade show or conference, renting a charter bus may be the best option to accommodate multiple individuals. According to INRIX, a leading source of transportation research, New Orleans ranks in the top 50 USA cities for traffic and congestion. Why stress about coordinating multiple rental cars or Ubers around the downtown district? Have a transportation company familiar with the city bus shuttle your business group around and take on the traffic for you.
Depending on the bus and size of your conference or convention group, a charter bus or minibus can fit everyone comfortably. A bus can also function as an airport shuttle from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to get everyone to hotels, convention centers, and attractions for when business is done. A professional chartering company can traverse the narrow roads with a compact minibus to get everyone to the conference without the worry of losing a few members to traffic. Keep in mind, whenever planning a business trip to NOLA, that the spring and fall months are the busiest (yes, we’re looking at you Mardi Gras).
Book a Hotel
Finding the best hotel in New Orleans fully depends on your reason for travel. Are you visiting for a convention or conference? Is your group here strictly on business? Or are you planning on reveling in the nightlife after business is over and done? Hopefully, everyone can have a little fun while in The Big Easy, but here are a few compiled options for travelers of all types:
Work Hard, Play Hard
Groups looking to have a good time after rounding out major business should aim for a hotel between the Central Business District (Downtown) and French Quarter. These neighborhoods contain most of the action in terms of both business and pleasure, containing meeting centers, offices, cultural centers, and the famous Bourbon Street. The Windsor Court Hotel and Ritz Carlton New Orleans are both located adjacent to the French Quarter. These hotels are in NOLA’s range of luxury lodging, boasting thousands of square feet in business meeting space, including boardrooms, ballrooms, and business centers. Business groups can conduct meetings in reserved hotel space and then pop over to the many lively streets running through the French Quarter.
Any groups attending a convention or conference may want to book a hotel closest to their convention venue. Located along the Mississippi River in the Downtown District, The New Orleans Ernest E. Morial Convention Center is the second largest convention venue in the south, making it a host for the majority of large events. The OMNI Riverfront Hotel and New Orleans Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center are located directly across from the Morial Convention Center, offering an easy commute for groups.
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Center are also large venues open for conventions in New Orleans. Both venues sit directly off of the highway in the Central Business District. The Hyatt House New Orleans is located directly next to both centers for groups looking for a quick trip. Various other hotels are located along the roads close to these venues, like the Drury Inn and Suites and Intercontinental New Orleans. Regardless of hotel or venue location, a rented charter bus can shuttle groups to and from hotels to convention centers.
Pleasure Takes Precedent
Let’s face it, sometimes you want to be in heart of the fun instead of focusing fully on work, especially for first time New Orleans visitors. Booking a hotel in the French Quarter is the best move for groups looking to party a little more than work. Finding a hotel in this district is also an ideal option for groups looking to spend an extra day or two exploring the city. Hotel Monteleone and Hotel Mazarin have the classic New Orleans charm and are located in the hustle and bustle of the famous neighborhood.
Enjoy the Town
Between nightlife, history, and decadent cuisine, there’s plenty beyond business to enjoy during a professional trip to New Orleans. While in the Big Easy, it’s almost a requirement to chow down on some authentic Cajun and Creole food. Restaurant August, Muriel’s Jackson Square, and Emeril’s Delmonico are just a few upscale dining experiences for business groups to experience New Orleans cuisine. To top off a busy afternoon or night, stop by one of many local sweet shops. What’s a trip to New Orleans without beignets? Visit the renowned Cafe du Monde for outstanding sweets to brighten any night.
Along with amazing food, let’s not forget the music. Music is a part of the culture, and jazz clubs create a soundtrack for the city. Even if you’re not a group of jazz lovers, indulge in the history and atmosphere of clubs like Fritzel’s European Jazz Club located on Bourbon Street and The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street. Both clubs are close to the heart of New Orleans nightlife among various other venues, bars, and eateries. Take a stroll along the famous streets and soak up the live music and energy of New Orleans.
If your group wants to take a ride on the spooky side, there’s no better place to explore haunted spots than in New Orleans. There are few locations where ghost tours and cemetery tours are as popular. Between lore of voodoo, ghosts, and witches, New Orleans’s history provides plenty of material for a paranormal tour. New Orleans is also home to some of the most scenic cemeteries in the world, with above-ground tombs dating back to the 1700s, groups looking for a unique experience won’t be disappointed.
No matter your reason for traveling to the Big Easy, take time to explore the city to the fullest. Begin your travel process by getting a bus quote and reserving a hotel for your group. Once business is taken care of, let the good times roll for the rest of your trip.
Daniella Deloatch is a contributing writer at New Orleans Charter Bus Company.