FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Orleans CVB
New Orleans CVB Announces the Appointment of Prominent National Hotel Industry Sales Executive Cara Banasch as the organization's new Vice President of Convention Sales and Strategy
Cara Banasch to partner with President/CEO Stephen Perry and new Executive VP Brad Weaber, CMP, on enhanced customer relations and growth strategies for New Orleans as a meetings destination
NEW ORLEANS - June 21, 2013 - Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), is pleased to announce the appointment of prominent hotel sales executive Cara Banasch as the organization's vice president of convention sales and strategy, effective July 22. Banasch will take over for veteran sales leader Nikki Nicholson Moon, upon her retirement after 31 years of legendary service to New Orleans' meetings industry.
Banasch currently serves as area director of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., overseeing twelve hotels in major markets throughout the south east and previously in Boston, from her base in New Orleans. Prior to this role, she held numerous leadership positions with Starwood including development of sales strategy for sixteen new build hotels in North America, running the global sales offices in Washington, D.C, one of the company's most critical account bases, and the Canadian global sales office from Toronto. Results oriented, she has an acclaimed record of revenue gains, building high performance teams, and the creation of sales strategy and infrastructure in hotel property sales, global sales and launch/re-launch of multiple assets.
"With the addition of Cara we have created the strongest strategic sales team in the country. She brings a new infusion of knowledge with her strong background in the global sales offices. With a deep strategic tool kit, intuitive customer perspective and immense hotel industry knowledge, Cara will play a major role with me and new EVP Brad Weaber in reinventing the new CVB model for the rapidly evolving meetings market. She brings the ability to create a model that wins for the customer and the destination," stated Perry.
Last month, Brad Weaber, CMP, a 25-year meeting industry veteran, who has served as a senior executive of both SmithBucklin and Experient, was named executive vice president of the New Orleans CVB, a newly created position, effective August 1. Weaber will focus on a new, enhanced strategic direction for New Orleans as a meeting/convention destination for corporations, associations and government entities, and specifically on a new customer interface and relationship model.
As the new vice president of convention sales and strategy, Ms. Banasch will report directly to Mr. Perry and will supervise the day-to-day operations and management of the 35-person national convention sales and services team. She also will play a key role in a strategic realignment and customer service re-positioning of the New Orleans CVB, working closely with Mr. Perry, Mr. Weaber, CVB members, and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
"It is impossible to express our deep gratitude to Nikki for all that she has contributed to our organization and city over three decades. Nikki is respected by every CVB employee, beloved by every member of our regional hospitality community, and is considered a friend and trusted colleague of every major player in the national travel industry. Nikki's legacy will be one of an impeccable work ethic rarely seen in the business world today, and a consummate professional who literally devoted the majority of her life to driving New Orleans' economy. We wish her much happiness in her well-deserved retirement," said Perry.
"The search for a new vice president of convention sales and strategies has been intensive. We had a tremendous field of qualified candidates and believe that Cara will bring a new extraordinary skill set with her experience, strategic account and team management, and her knowledge of the New Orleans market. She is the perfect fit to lead the sales team and provide enhanced results for our customers and increased market share for our industry," said Robert Bray, area general manager, Marriott International, and chair of the search committee.
"It is an honor to join the talented team at the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. I look forward to working with Stephen, Brad and the entire hospitality community as we position and sell New Orleans as a customer centric, dynamic destination for meetings. I have fallen in love with New Orleans and its rich culture, texture and spirit," said Banasch. "I am passionately dedicated to driving immense value in the convention and meetings business both for our customers and for every hospitality company and employee in the city."
Banasch will be based at the New Orleans CVB headquarters in the city's beautiful Garden District. Moon will remain with the CVB for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition. Weaber will be based in Washington D.C, but will divide time between that critical market, New Orleans and customers around the United States.
Tourism is a $6 billion industry for New Orleans, employing 75,000 people and attracting more than nine million visitors annually. New Orleans' largest industry is committed to a smart growth strategy, with a goal of reaching 13.7 million visitors and $11 billion in visitor spending and the creation of 30,000 jobs by 2018, the city's tricentennial.
* Headshots of Moon, Banasch and Weaber available upon request *
The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Phoenix and five foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrated its 53rd anniversary in 2013. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com, www.facebook.com/neworleanscvb, and www.twitter.com/NewOrleans.