Expedia, Inc., parent company to online travel sites Expedia.com and Hotels.com, in cooperation with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, is recognizing the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week. Members of the Expedia® market management team in New Orleans are looking back over the past five years and offering perspective on the immediate impact the disaster had on New Orleans` tourism industry, and honoring the city`s resilience and dedication to rebuilding one of the nation`s most popular tourist destinations.
Data on hotel bookings to New Orleans made on Expedia and Hotels.com-branded sites worldwide shows the dramatic decline in hotel bookings by nearly 70 percent year over year for the three-months before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 vs. the same three-month period one year later. Since then, hotel bookings on Expedia and Hotels.com sites have steadily increased.
Year – Year over year decline/increase in hotel bookings on Expedia and Hotels.com sites
The data is consistent with a recent business and economic report by the University of New Orleans (UNO), showing that the city`s tourism industry was the hardest-hit during the first two years after Hurricane Katrina.
Expedia has conducted a number of initiatives over the last five years in an effort to support New Orleans` recovery. Expedia market managers in New Orleans, who are part of the company`s global team of hotel revenue and marketing experts located in cities worldwide, have worked closely with local hotels to create marketing and distribution strategies that matched the capacity and demand of the local tourism market.
“No other city in the nation can match the level of spirit and energy of New Orleans,” said Seth Bertenthal, who was recently appointed Expedia market manager for New Orleans “In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, hotels opened their doors to displaced residents and those searching for missing family members. The dedication local hotels showed to those in need is a testament to the level of strength and stability they bring to the city of New Orleans, and is a perfect example of the positive impact they have had on the city`s ability to recover.”
The partnership between the New Orleans tourism community and Expedia continues today. New Orleans recently took advantage of Expedia Media`s recent $3 to $1 matching program to fund advertising campaigns for markets impacted by the recent Gulf oil spill. The funds were used to spotlight the city in an Expedia.com homepage takeover earlier this month, with initial results of that promotion showing a nearly 60% average increase in online travel bookings to New Orleans during the campaign. In addition, the Greater New Orleans Foundation is participating in Expedia Affiliate Network`s TravelRelief.org program, which pays a share of hotel bookings made on the site to a participating charitable organization of the customer`s choice.
“We are committed to our partners in the destinations we serve,” said Vishal Singh, Director of Market Management for Expedia Partner Services Group. “2010 itself has seen many ups and downs for New Orleans, from the Saints` Super Bowl victory, and the oil spill tragedy. Through it all, we are working closely with our hotel partners in New Orleans to ensure the strength of the local tourism industry.”