NEW ORLEANS - It was not so long ago when general manager Beth Ables did not have to work too hard to hard fill rooms at the Inn on Bourbon.
With its prime location at the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse streets, the spot was a natural draw for tourists wanting to immerse themselves in the French Quarter experience.
And then came Hurricane Katrina, which spared the 186-room hotel its damage but cut the legs off the New Orleans tourism industry.
On the heels of storm recovery, a global recession has reduced travel budgets - leisure and corporate - even further.
"Before the phone used to ring off the hook," said Ables
, who's managed the hotel for seven years.
"Now we have to beat the pavement.
We're forced to be creative."
While not disclosing occupancy rates, Ables
said the Ramada-flagged property is seeing the same downturn as other hotels in the city.
It marks a departure from the hotel's sole reliance on leisure tourists, Ables
has established a relationship with the New Orleans Opera Association
and will host a series of "Opera on Tap" performances at the Inn on Bourbon's newly dubbed Puccini Bar
, which is next in line for renovation.
"I'm not aware of any other hotel in the city doing this," Ables
"You have business visitors with expense accounts, and this just makes it easier for them make it part of their experience."
Rooms with balconies, once exclusively the domain on leisure travelers, will be marketed to corporate clients during the Carnival season.
"It was something we never had to do before," Ables
said, "but times have changed."