As the saying goes, there's strength in numbers. That's just what New Orleans-area Marriott hotels are counting on with a new plan to align group sales efforts in their struggling market, still coping with the effects of lost business due to Hurricane Katrina.

Marriott International recently launched the Group Market Sales Organization, designed to offer enhanced business solutions and services to meeting and convention planners. The group comprises a dozen executives handling six hotel brands, including Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites. The enterprise, which includes 13 Marriott properties throughout the city (a total of 3,998 rooms), will provide additional horsepower to property teams, eliminate redundancy and deliver results to customers in an expeditious and unified manner, says the company.

The group is headed by Kristen McMillon-Rauch, market director of sales. The restructuring of the sales force means that meeting planners will have one point of contact when doing business with Marriott properties in New Orleans and therefore will receive “more dedicated, focused, one-on-one time with the sales representative,” according to Marriott.

“We are confident that the new Group Market Sales Organization will be well received all around,” says McMillon-Rauch. “It will not only benefit the 13 Marriott-branded hotels in New Orleans by growing our competitive edge in the market, but will also streamline communications for meeting planners, making their dealing with the hotels seamless, and will help increase group business for the city.”

And, according to McMillon-Rauch, operators of the properties in the group view the initiative as a great opportunity to grow their individual and collective revenues.

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