This past weekend, what perhaps was the first corporate meeting to take place in New Orleans post-Katrina unfolded as 35 doctors and medical executives from Fort Worth, Texas-based Alcon Inc. demonstrated new developments in cataract surgery at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter.
“I got a call that every event planner loves to receive,” said Bonnie Boyd, who is president of a 12-person destination management company based in New Orleans, Bonnie Boyd & Company, which closed its doors temporarily in the aftermath of Katrina.
“It was Alcon, a long-time pharmaceutical client, saying they had planned to do an event in Baton Rouge, but now needed meeting space ASAP, and could we accommodate them in the French Quarter,” Boyd said in a press release. “I did the only thing I could do--called friends, made arrangements, and opened the doors to the city.”
Among Boyd’s friends is internationally-known Chef Paul Prudhomme, who opened his signature K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen restaurant for the first time in six weeks for the meeting’s opening night dinner. The Royal Sonesta Hotel accommodated corporate executives overnight in suites next to FEMA and local officials. Boyd supplied the buses, the meeting favors, the coordination--and the inspiration.
Boyd’s company received thousands of dollars in contributions from other members of Global Events Partners, a network of destination management companies worldwide, in the days since Katrina, which helped keep her doors open and allowed her to respond quickly to Alcon’s request.
Carol Duke, director of medical education at Alcon, who rode the bus to New Orleans with company executives and doctors for the three-day meeting, said, “The meeting went off without a hitch, and we were treated like visiting royalty. Our friends in New Orleans can rest assured we will be back many times in the future.”