Just upriver from Canal Street, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is the sixth-largest facility of its kind in the U.S. After Hurricane Katrina, $60 million of renovations took place, and the center was open once again for business.
It’s an impressive place – 1.1 million square feet of exhibition space in 12 combinable exhibit halls covering 11 blocks with a front façade over half a mile long. It has two formal ballrooms and a 4,000-seat auditorium. As a symbol of New Orleans’ revitalization, they’ve also taken a leading role in green considerations, with comprehensive programs in waste reduction, energy and water conservation, and clean air practices.
“There’s a green movement afoot here,” says Paul O’Connell, Director of IT Services, “This is important to people more and more now, and signage is big money for a place like us. In a building this size, how much foam core do you think we’d use in a year? We wanted an electronic enhancement that was more than just a perk.” O’Connell and his team decided that a deployment of MeetingMinder™ room signs from Visix was what they were looking for.
“We’ve got 143 meeting rooms, some with one sign, some with two – 230 MeetingMinders™ in all. Then we have 40 large screens on rolling stands that can be moved to wherever we need them.”
Onscreen messages include some general information, like restaurant menus or airport departure schedules, as well as messages targeted directly to the client. “We customize to the client – put their logos on the screens, which they feel is a nice touch, and every meeting room is signed,” says O’Connell. Clients get plenty of exposure when using the facility. “The numbers are huge – we have hundreds of hours of meetings going on.”
He appreciates the flexibility and re-configurability of the system. “Our whole system is customized and makes it easy for on-the-fly changes; you know, ‘Hey, something’s moved over here.’ For last-minutes shifts like this, it’s great.”
O’Connell has made sure that several staff members have been trained on the system, so clients don’t have to wait. “It was a collaborative thing to get this up and running,” he says. “The system has been reliable and the staff knows how to use it well.” It isn’t just working with the staff that has made implementing the system easier. “Visix support has been great. We spent a lot of money on this and they came in and walked us through it. It’s been a very collaborative process.”
He sees the adaptability of the MeetingMinders™ as a definite asset. “Obviously you have to have reasonable expectations, but you’re trying to get the client to spend more money on your system. It’s a sales incentive,” he explains. “We tell them ‘We’ll do the digital signage for you.’ I see this as an enhancement.”