President & CEO
New Orleans & Company is a nationally accredited, 1,100- member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. New Orleans & Company influences thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding, and visitor services.
Under Stephen Perry’s leadership since 2002, New Orleans & Company has routinely been ranked as one of the top five DMOs in the country and won multiple national awards for excellence in sales, marketing, public relations, branding, customer service, and corporate relations. New Orleans & Company propel the city’s tourism industry which drove $10.5 billion in visitor spending in 2019 and employed nearly 100,000 New Orleanians before the pandemic. The key to Perry’s leadership has been in his insistence on constant innovation in structure, client service, technology, sales processes, and reimagining public relations activations. A second critical factor has been his recruitment and empowerment of a world-class team and compensating them accordingly.
Perry has proven himself as a true national leader within our industry with service on the board of directors and Chairman of Destinations International, the U.S. Travel Association, the U.S. Travel, and Tourism Advisory Board. With his involvement, New Orleans has received unprecedented representation in national travel and tourism matters bringing tremendous value to New Orleans’ tourism industry, now and in the future.
New Orleans & Company played a key role as a leader in rebuilding the economy in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, during the BP oil spill, in 2015 as the company that led the fight against anti-LGBTQ state legislation and is now leading in the recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
According to Perry, New Orleans’ culture is its greatest strength. “It is the people of New Orleans who created that culture of New Orleans, and as a company and community partner, we focus on ensuring that the tourism industry benefits all residents of New Orleans in a virtuous cycle,” he says. “We strive to nourish and sustain the culture of our city, which makes New Orleans a world-class travel destination and in an incredibly authentic, sensory place in which to live, for those of us lucky enough to call it home.” In 2018 the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau was rebranded and changed to New Orleans & Company, symbolizing the inclusiveness they value, with “Company” representing their many members and partners, the approximately 100,000 employees directly employed in tourism in New Orleans (before the pandemic), the culture-bearers who shape and carry on the traditions, and, of course, the visitors they welcome as guests.
The company’s goal is to directly connect the businesses and attractions that make up the tourism industry, the visitors who invest in those businesses and attractions, and the city’s residents who benefit from tourism. “As our promotion of the city continues and the city’s offerings evolve, we will continue to support New Orleans’ culture by providing more career opportunities than any other industry in the region and by generating revenues to fuel a vibrant economy in which all residents can find a path to prosperity,” says Perry.
New Orleans & Company is committed to the belief that the tourism industry is the key to a modern cultural economy and is the dominant steward of economic growth and vitality in New Orleans. Their incredible chefs, innovative cuisine, eclectic magical musicians, and culture that has evolved uniquely in every neighborhood combine to make New Orleans one of the truly original destinations in the U.S. and really around the world for business and leisure visitors.
The company is looking forward to even more growth in visitation and visitor spending in the future, adding even more jobs and tax revenues to the city’s economy. “We are incredibly optimistic as we evolve out of the pandemic. People want to travel and we’ve worked hard to keep New Orleans top of mind,” says the steadfast leader. “We are working as consulting business partners with our clients to bring business in new ways to the city. We play a leading world role in shaping the brand of our city.” The development of a new world-class airport, comprehensive redesign and renovations of their gateway convention center, the development of new cultural products, and the emphasis on the rebirth of the world-famous music and restaurant industries are critical to balancing the new with the core of the authentic culture. “In New Orleans, the sensory elements of architecture, cuisine and music come together in an authentic, real way to flavor every visit into a compendium of memories that always remain.”
New Orleans & Company led the city’s largest industry to complete recovery following the most devastating catastrophes any City has seen following Katrina, multiple other hurricanes, and the BP oil spill. A very small city of less than 400,000, New Orleans has taken devastation and turned it into rebirth, reestablishing itself as one of the top six convention cities in America now a world favorite for experiencing the authentic, original culture.
“Now that we have built the only brand new international airport constructed in America in years, we are refocusing on the redevelopment and reopening of our riverfront to residents and visitors with magnificent new green space and cultural attractions,” says Perry. “We have the largest convention center reimagining in decades and the redesign of one of the nation’s greatest aquariums now underway. The key is new product, reimagined product, and the blending of new attractions and facilities with a strengthened intrinsic and authentic culture that appeals to millions across the world.” And why that appeal because in New Orleans culture bubbles up from the street authentically, not driven from above, New Orleans is simply the most historic, authentic, original American city, where the senses are magnified and sated in unthought-of ways nothing here is artificial, but instead represents a harkening back to when life was real and rich.