Hotel Online  Special Report

  New Orleans Travel Industry's Long Road
Back Begins - with an Ironic First Step
In a Reversal of Fortune, New Orleans Event Planner Buses Executives to the
French Quarter from Baton Rouge, For First Corporate Meeting Held
in the City Since Katrina
Fort Worth-Based Company is Hosted by Chef Paul Prudhomme,
the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and  Bonnie Boyd, October 14th-16th 

New Orleans, October 17, 2005 – This time, the buses were rolling from west to east on Louisiana’s I-10  - as New Orleans hotel, restaurant and destination management leaders came together to host 35 doctors and medical executives from based Alcon, Inc., whose U.S. offices are in Fort Worth, TX, for a three-day event that is reported to have been be the first corporate meeting held in the city since Hurricane Katrina struck the city more than six weeks ago.  The meeting took place October 14 through 16 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter.

For the meeting’s opening night dinner, internationally-renowned Chef Paul Prudhomme opened his signature K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen restaurant for the first time in six weeks. The Royal Sonesta Hotel accommodated corporate executives over night in suites next to FEMA and local officials. And New Orleans destination management specialist Bonnie Boyd, President of Bonnie Boyd & Company, supplied the buses, the meeting favors, the coordination  - and the inspiration. 
“I got a call that every event planner loves to receive,” said Boyd, whose twelve-person destination management company in New Orleans, Bonnie Boyd & Company, closed its doors temporarily along with other city businesses in the aftermath of Katrina. 

“It was Alcon, a long-time corporate client, saying they had planned to do an event in Baton Rouge, but now needed meeting space ASAP, and could we accommodate them in the French Quarter.” Boyd concluded, “I did the only thing I could do – called friends, made arrangements and opened the doors to the city.” 

Boyd, whose company has been providing destination services in New Orleans for more than a dozen years, had her work made easier by long-standing relationships in the New Orleans hospitality community, and her affiliation with international destination management company Global Events Partners (GEP) and hotel sales Krisam Group, whose member hotels include the Royal Sonesta.   

Boyd’s company received thousands of dollars in contributions from GEP partners worldwide in the days since Katrina, which helped keep her doors open, and allowed her to respond quickly to Alcon’s request.

Bringing the Pieces Together

Boyd’s first call was to Hans Wandfluh, General Manager of the Sonesta, who said he would make special accommodations to provide lodging. Next came a call to Chef Paul Prudhomme, an international ambassador of New Orleans cuisine, who was attending promotional meetings in China; he agreed to catch the earliest return flight possible, to try to be present to greet and cook for the group. 

Then, after calls to the bus company and rounding up key her members of her staff who had not been in active duty since Katrina, Bonnie called her clients to let them know the event was a “go.”

“I was absolutely delighted Bonnie Boyd was able to accommodate us,” said Carol Duke, Director of Medical Education for Alcon, who rode the bus to New Orleans with company executives and doctors for the three-day meeting. “We gave the New Orleans tourism community a real challenge difficult circumstances, but with Bonnie’s leadership, the group came through with flying colors.”

Duke, who has booked several corporate meetings and events in New Orleans over the course of several years, said the response of the hospitality community shows the city’s resolve to become a world-class meeting destination again – and to do so quickly. 

She concluded, “The meeting went off without a hitch, and we were treated like visiting royalty. Our friends in New Orleans can rest assured we will be back many times in the future.”

The success of the event was made more poignant in light of its purpose: demonstrating new developments in cataract surgery that are being pioneered by Alcon.

Concluded Boyd, “We brought the executives and eye doctors here to see New Orleans in its best light, in the most difficult of circumstances. How rewarding to know we may have contributed to allowing more people to see our city, an emerging city, even more clearly in the future.”

About BBC – Bonnie Boyd & Company
BBC is New Orleans’ premier destination management company, which for more than twelve years has provided corporate, government and association clients with the best in New Orleans transportation, entertainment, seminars, tours, special events and more. BBC is a proud partner of Global Events Partners, GEP, a partnership of the world’s leading destination and event management companies (DMCs), with more than 60 DMC partners in 46 countries and on six continents.

About Alcon
Alcon, Inc. is the world's leading eye care company with sales exceeding $3.9 billion in 2004. Alcon, which has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry for over 50 years, develops, manufactures and markets ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye. For more information on Alcon, Inc., visit the company's Web site at


Michael Frenkel, MFC PR
for BBC - Bonnie Boyd & Company



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