New Orleans Conventioneers Look To Come Here
By Claudio Mendonca
Organizations nationwide that had scheduled meetings and conventions in New Orleans this fall are scrambling, calling Miami and other cities to find replacement sites.
"So far, we have already received from 10 to 15 inquiries of groups which had events in New Orleans interested in coming to Miami," said Patricia Dolan, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau director of convention sales.
Miami-Dade hotels still have openings in October and November to welcome the unexpected visitors, Ms. Dolan said.
One group seeking a new venue is the New CardioVascular Horizons, a Louisiana health-care group that has been phoning the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to book space for 600 to 800 attendees.
New CardioVascular Horizons had its medical conference scheduled for Oct. 27-29 at the New Orleans Marriott and was expected to have 3,500 participants there, mostly from areas battered by Hurricane Katrina.
The Miami Beach Convention Center can host two conferences simultaneously, said bureau President and CEO William Talbert III.
"We have four halls at the convention center," he said. "Depending on the time of the year, we can have two meetings at the same time."
But while it’s possible to hold two simultaneously, said Doug Tober, general manager of SMG, the company managing the 500,000-square-foot convention center, it all depends on the timing of the event and hotel availability.
"October and November is usually a busy time of the year and many of our hotels are at full occupancy," said Mr. Tober, who notes the convention center is only half the size of New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. "We will definitely do what we can to try to squeeze them in if there is an opportunity."