New Orleans might seem like an unlikely place to travel for business. The city’s reputation for leisure, music, revelry, and history might lead one to think that a trip to New Orleans is best fit for a vacation or bachelorette party weekend rather than a conference or business destination.
In fact, in the first quarter of 2018, New Orleans will be host to 16 major conventions and conferences, which will bring in roughly 250,000 visitors and millions of dollars in economic impact into the city by the end of March. This number doesn’t include smaller, local conferences or the regional industries, such as oil and energy, technology, and hospitality that bring in consistent business travelers into the area year-round.
While New Orleans might not be the destination that comes to mind when you think of work or business travel, the city is prepared with plenty of places to plug in your laptop, upscale restaurants for schmoozing (and maybe boozing), and comfortable places to lay your head at night. For a business traveler, knowing the right places to go is essential to making the best of your trip, so let us guide you for the next time you find yourself in New Orleans for a convention or business meeting.
Start the day right with that first cup of coffee
New Orleans has no shortage of coffee, but that doesn’t mean that you need to settle for that same cup of coffee from Starbucks like you do every morning. Try one of the city’s local coffee shops for a brew that is as unique to the city itself. If you are staying Downtown, Stumptown Coffee inside the Ace Hotel offers some of the most unique drink concoctions in addition to more traditional favorites like lattes and cappuccinos. Stumptown opens up into the hotel’s lobby area, which is perfect for coffee meetings while in town. The coffee shop also offers tables with multiple electrical outlets for people who need a space to work on their laptop. Other local favorites include Rue De La Course and PJ’s Coffee.
The Business Lunch
The business lunch is quite popular in New Orleans, and visitors should know how the locals do it. Choosing the right place to meet for a business lunch can be as important as the actual business being discussed. The place should be impressive but not too stuffy, and delicious but not too filling.
Nestled on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans is La Petite Grocery, best known for their Blue Crab Beignets, LPG Burgers and martinis. The food is consistently delicious and appealing to all palates, and the ambiance is elegant and charming. It also helps that they have a few James Beard Awards. Downtown, closer to the Convention Center, is Emeril’s Meril and Café Adelaide, run by the famous Brennan family. For a more casual experience, Capdeville offers contemporary options and quick service in the Central Business District.
The Deal-Closing Dinner
Dinner should not be subjected to the tourist trap or hotel restaurants. Doris Metropolitan has all the components to impress a business prospect or boss (including a short rib cooked for twenty-four hours, a large wine list, sophisticated ambiance and a high price tag.) The delicious Israeli steakhouse is the first of their restaurants to be opened in the United States, and is located right off Jackson Square, giving diners all the elements of a high-end steakhouse while experiencing one of the most historic areas of the French Quarter.
Another favorite is Commander’s Palace. Cushioned in between some of New Orleans’ most exquisite homes in the Garden District, Commander’s Palace is a staple in the city’s business and social scene.
Experience the city on your down time
For those who are lucky enough to be sent to New Orleans for business travel, time must be made to take in the city’s culture. If you get an extra day or afternoon with some free time, the National WWII Museum is one of the nation’s most impressive museums. It uses multimedia installations and exhibits, as well as personal stories, to tell in detail about one of history’s biggest wars.
For a night out, start with any one of the fabulous roof-top bars at the NOPSI hotel, Troubadour Hotel, or the Ace Hotel downtown. Then, head to Frenchmen Street to take in New Orleans music and nightlife all at once. The strip of back-to-back live music venues and clubs is alive with reveling locals and visitors alike on any given night. End the night of dancing and drinking with a hot dog from Dat Dog to help prevent the next day’s hangover.
A place to stay with the comforts of home
We’ve recently discovered that a large amount of visitors who stay at bed and breakfasts are business travelers. It might seem counter-intuitive or surprising, but after visiting a few of the city’s best in lodging, I fully understand the lure. You get the comforts of home, an intimate experience, great service and a little peace and quiet after a long day. What makes New Orleans unique is that you can stay at a quiet B&B, just outside of the CBD, but really only be a mile or two away from that early morning meeting downtown. We have a few Bed & Breakfast suggestions for you.
The Terrell House in the Lower Garden District is housed inside a Victorian mansion from the 1800’s. The elegant home offers spacious bedrooms, suites in the carriage house and apartments in an adjacent building. The mansion sits on the residential part of one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Magazine Street, which stretches from Uptown to Downtown with several restaurants, bars and stores throughout the strip. It is roughly one mile away from the CBD, which is a five-minute Uber ride. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m., but The Terrell’s house owner, Linda O’Brien, says that they can have breakfast and coffee prepared at 6 a.m. for the business travelers that have to be up and out at earlier times. The staff can also act as personal concierges, and are happy to make suggestions and dinner reservations at some of the city’s best establishments.
In the heart of Uptown on historic St. Charles Avenue, you’ll find Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast. All of the rooms here are unique and have been decorated by the owners, Joe and Bebe. Their focus is a great night’s rest, which is a must when you need to put your best foot forward for business. Amenities include private baths, irons, hair dryers, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and free parking. Complimentary continental breakfast is offered in the dining room or on the Creole-style veranda (weather permitting) each morning. We love that they offer a 24/7 snack tower with treats, fresh and preserved fruit, and bottled water for those business travelers that will be up late working.
Tucked into a quiet Garden District/Uptown neighborhood with twenty restaurants within walking distance is the Chimes Bed and Breakfast. It’s also nearby the best shopping area in New Orleans, Magazine Street. (After the business is done, of course.) The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line, The guest rooms range from small and cozy to large split level all with private bathrooms, TV’s, quiet self-controlled air conditioners, and Wi-fi so that you can rest well and be ready to tackle the day. The tall ceilings and decor in this luxury B&B embody the spirit New Orleans. Chimes Bed and Breakfast offers a daily changing breakfast menu emphasizing fresh fruits, fresh baguette & bread, cheese plate, French pastries, egg dish, yogurt, juices and other specialty items.
If you want a unique experience that feels more like a retreat than a basic business trip, try a local bed and breakfast to get a feel for the city and a personalized stay. To see more Bed & Breakfast offerings in the city, check out the listings here.