by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 01, 2007

Two months ago, Marriott International launched a new, one-stop group-marketing sales organization to support its 14 branded New Orleans-area hotels. Heading up that new 12-member sales team is New Orleans-based Kristen McMillon-Rauch, market director of sales, who talked with M&C about the group’s initiative and efforts.

What benefits does the new organization give to planners?

Instead of calling every hotel to see if their meeting is a fit, planners now have one point of contact for everything, from arranging a site inspection to checking rates and availability.

Are you working with the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau?

Marriott represents 10 percent of the New Orleans room supply, so the CVB was very excited when we told them how we were restructuring our efforts, because it obviously makes their job easier and makes the city more attractive to do business with, especially when it comes to citywide conventions.

What has been the response from planners?

Since we launched on Jan. 1, we have booked two major programs, one for 6,000 rooms on peak nights, the other for 3,000 rooms. In both those instances, the planners told us that the ease with which they were able to get the information they needed helped them make their choice. And we have some tentatives, which we hope to close on soon.

What is your five-year plan?

I’d like us to get to the point where we travel with the CVB team to help them sell New Orleans as a destination.