December 9, 2016 — Of those who’ve been to a Mardi Gras in New Orleans many would agree it is quite the festive event and there is so much to do just in the French Quarter area that they needed more than a few days to git ‘er done. The incredible dining opportunities alone, offering a variety of delicious cuisines, are nearly endless not to mention all the shopping, the art galleries, the entertainment and roaming a historical district rich in diverse cultural heritages that dates back to its founding days in 1718, reportedly by a French company under the direction of Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.
So Here’s The Scoop: Of course La Nouvelle-Orléans was discovered long before the French arrived but that is not the issue at hand. This week my only concern is how, IMO, the struggling American Resort Development Association (ARDA) utterly blew an incredible opportunity to sizzle their upcoming annual 2017 convention in the amazing city known as The Big Easy.
That nickname, by the way, is a metaphor allegedly contributed by a local gossip columnist back in the early 1970’s who wrote a piece that contrasted the general laidback lifestyle in NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana) – The Big Easy – to that of New York – The Big Apple.
For quite a few years and on many occasions some of us have urged ARDA to stop their annual seesaw, bouncing their big yearly convention back and forth every other year between Las Vegas NV and, mostly, Orlando Florida.
Many of us did so because we also believed that ARDA’s entrenched fixation on those two destinations was one of several reasons attendance seemed to be slipping each year as people were basically bored; it was the old ‘been there, done that’ syndrome.
So earlier this year when it was announced that 2017’s annual Love Fest would be held in New Orleans many of us were quite pleased and applauded the decision by ARDA for finally offering their members and guests something new, fresh and tantalizing.
For the record I have been to NOLA a few times over the years, going to NFL games, a Mardi Gras and occasionally popping in for a couple of days of fun, food, sightseeing, entertainment, shopping and to visit the museums, etc. Not to mention stopping by my favorite casino so I could pay my compulsory dues.
And in the interest of full disclosure the rumors are true that during one of my jaunts to the Big Easy I probably shouldn’t have had that second very large adult beverage named the “Hurricane” that was invented and is still being served at the world famous Pat O’Brien’s in the heart of the French Quarter because, well, I sort of got a little crazy in the head.
But in all fairness, between the great non-stop Jazz being played, the buzz of everyone at O’Brien’s and throughout the French Quarter having the time of their lives – I simply joined in all the excitement and lost my otherwise congenial bearing.
Besides, for over 80 years, beginning in 1933, the motto at Pats is to “Have Fun”. And though I escaped being detained for having too much fun I dared not let all the famous people down who continue to visit O’Brien’s on a daily basis nor Pat’s axiom that compelled me to respect and honor their visitors, the people working there, the establishment and their long standing tradition. That’s my story I’m stickin’ to it!
With each visit to New Orleans I had a wonderful time and I’m pretty darn sure those trips are also directly responsible for adding an inch or so around my waist because the scrumptious dining choices and options at so many wonderful and exotic restaurants is darn near Inconceivable.
But back to ARDA and the association’s decision on a destination other than NV or FL for their next big event in March of 2017; when you visit their website they treat the city they selected as if it was merely a passing thought.
Perhaps it all happened one typical day when everyone at ARDA was busy working hard, folding paper airplanes, flying them around the office and someone threw a dart at a map of the U.S. on the wall and when it landed on “The Crescent City” the decision was reluctantly made.
“Now listen up everyone; a new destination for 2017 has been selected. Umm, you two by the window put down the pizza and upload the convention info we run every year on our website and, ah, you, over there in the corner with the propeller beanie cap. STOP DOING THAT, go wash your hands and send out our standard eblast. Now make it happen people…’
Regardless of how the decision actually came about what appears to have occurred next was someone also concluded that “everyone knows about New Orleans so we don’t need no stinkin’ promotion of the city, the attractions or activities…”
Kind of like how some developers and others in ‘the biz’ assert that “an up is an up”, at ARDA, someone determined – New Orleans? – “Humbug, a city is a city…”
Of course that’s all pure conjecture on my part but when I received my e-mail reminder recently that the convention was forthcoming I was so terribly disappointed by the blasé’ ARDA announcement that my initial reaction was ‘hell no, we won’t go’ — again.
Actually we are all planning on going to ARDA 2017 because NOLA is a hoot – and I encourage everyone who can make the trip to do so, participate during the convention and also get out and enjoy all the remarkable sights, activities and experiences in this fascinating community that is one 1 year shy of being 300 years old.
And for ARDA I have an extra special message to pass along this week. As you know the competition from other events like GNEX continues to lure your audience away and ARDA, as my old high school PE coach would say, needs to “get-with-the-program” and (e.g.) utilize the power and reach of the electronic universe (aka: the Internet) to sell the hell out of your meetings/conventions as well as sizzle (sell) the destinations.
As an example, for just a few dollars this year ARDA could have dispatched a couple staff members to The Big Easy with an HD motion-sensitive camcorder in tow with the sole mission of going around and ‘shooting’ many of the exciting attractions in the French Quarter including the incredible and rare architectural building designs from the Spanish and French era and regimes that once dominated the region.
Since videos are so widely appealing and popular doing so and uploading the presentation to the ARDA website and sending out PRs with the video attached, etc. would have likely sparked more interest among ARDA’s target audience and especially the many thousands who’ve probably never been to The Big Easy in the first place.
So go to Orleans for the 2017 convention folks and if you want to hook up you’ll find me on Bourbon Street roaming about draped in my old Mardi Gras beads and mask, people watching, making new friends, dancing in the streets or popping into many establishments while enthusiastically creating more wonderful memories.
But rest assured, I don’t care how many of those “Hurricanes” anyone buys me this time I will not, under any circumstances, engage in table top dancing. Nope, it wouldn’t be prudent and it doesn’t matter if some of Satchmo’s music (google that, Millennials, if you’re unaware) is heard coming from many of the fine places of business throughout the very captivating French Quarter.
And speaking of “POPS”, here are a couple of my musical favorites some of you may remember and/or might enjoy performed by one of the most memorable entertainers of all time – the late, great, Mr. Louis Armstrong – born, August 4th 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- “What a Wonderful World”:
- “When The Saints Go Marching In”:
Good Luck Out There
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