I've been to New Orleans for 48 years and it makes me feel a bit older.
The city is where I like to live. I sometimes think of changing my name to Arnaud.
The New Orleans chapter of Skal invited me to speak at its annual Industry Update held earlier this week at the National World War II Museum.
I was asked to give a tourism overview, where we are, where I think we are heading, and New Orleans tourism specifically.
The speaker and the president of the Professional Convention Management Association would address questions from the audience.
Hotels are getting record-breaking daily rates, cruise lines are setting records for onboard spending, and airlines are reporting record airfares.
Travel advisors often turn away business because they can't handle all the requests coming their way.
Many people were trapped in their homes during the first years of the Pandemic because of a stymied desire to travel. If desire doesn't go away, it builds, and in this case it built into cabinfever.
Price was a secondary consideration when the doors opened.
I thought I should talk about the alligator in the room because of the potential recession.
Since I entered the travel industry in 1985 there have been three recessions and one that lasted two months at the start of the Pandemic. The Great Recession of 2007) lasted 18 months. The previous two were not long.
If we move into official recession territory and it lasts 10 months, it will be 25% longer than the two previous recessions.
It is possible that the leisure travel industry can weather a potential recession better than most other sectors. Reservations on the books may keep us out of trouble through the summer and possibly through the end-of-the-year holidays.
Travel has always been seen as a discretionary spend, but today's consumer behavior seems to be different. It is possible that the current travel boom will last for months into an economic downturn.
This is the first time I've heard of it.
If you could change one thing about New Orleans to make it better for travelers, what would it be?
This type of question is akin to messing with time. If you had a time machine, would you kill a dictator? Someone worse might arise if that's the case.
Would you change the behavior of a loved one? The chemistry that brought you together could be out of balance.
I think the question of what would you change is related to the worry that New Orleans is a deficit.
I'm not belittling legitimate safety concerns, but I don't know where to draw the line on other perceived social concerns. The blend of sophisticated, rich cultures that ended up there gave rise to the city's unique character.
It feels like "Be careful what you wish" when it comes to New Orleans. It is one of the few US cities that is completely different. You know where you are when you look out the window.
You are happy that you are there.
It's easy for visitors to forget how small the Big Easy is because of how many things it has to offer.
Residents are aware.
It could be comforting to have a tourism economy in a small city. How big the travel industry is is easy to forget. According to Karamat, if travel and tourism were a country, it would be the 14th largest in the world.
It is an industry that finds power by rising above the hundreds of thousands of component parts. New Orleans plays an outsized role.