All properties along the Mississippi Gulf Coast have been restored to their pre-Hurricane Katrina status, and all are open for business. Beau Rivage, an MGM Mirage property, has been a centerpiece of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the region’s hospitality industry since 1999. It was rebuilt after Katrina, reopening in 2006.
Now, two years later, Maureen Wooten, director of hotel sales and marketing at Beau Rivage, talked with MeetingNews about the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a meetings destination, and what 2009 holds for the property.
Q: How well have you recovered from the hurricane?
A: On the convention side, we’re where we were pre-Katrina. This year (2008) has been fantastic. A lot of our business is repeat business. Meetings are on pace for ’09 and 2010. We’re gaining momentum after closing all year.
Q: What will your group business mix be in 2009?
A: Sixty percent is association; 40 percent is corporate, with a very broad size range, from 30 to 500 people. We’re also trying to capture incentive groups; we have to court them all.
Q: What’s on the horizon for Beau Rivage’s meeting business in 2009?
A: The National Governors Association is coming in July; that is a really big deal. Total room nights will be 2,000—650 peak. But every piece of business is important.
Q: Do on-site casinos play a role in groups booking along the Mississippi Gulf Coast?
A: Yes, the casino is an added amenity. [But it] depends on the nature of the meeting and the group. We also have 11 restaurants, a nightclub, and a theater.
Q: The Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention Center is nearing completion of its renovation and expansion. What impact has it had on your marketing efforts and your ability to land big meetings?
A: We sell the Beau Rivage, and we sell our meeting space. The renovated center will certainly help us out when it comes to large citywides.
Originally published Jan. 5, 2009