The growth in attendance at Southern Baptists’ annual gathering and resulting demand for hotel rooms reflects a healthy desire for participation in the convention. However, that can also strain processes in place for reserving those rooms on the first day of availability, as messengers will have the opportunity to do on Oct. 3 starting at 9 a.m. Eastern.
“We are anticipating messenger totals to be in line with recent years, and demand for hotels will be high once again. To expedite your hotel booking experience we are suggesting some best practices that will make things easier for everyone interested in joining us in New Orleans,” said Jonathan Howe, Executive Committee vice president for communications.
The list of convention hotels and other nearby hotels is available now at the meeting website. The information includes the proximity to the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the convention room rate.
Howe provided several tips to aid the reservation process. Those are:
- Use only one device when booking. The more IP addresses hitting the registration queue, the slower things will be for everyone.
- Try a variety of dates for certain hotels that may appear sold out. Sometimes the dates being selected may be booked, but others are open.
- Remember that shuttles will be running from the convention hotels on Canal Street to the Convention Center. Attendees do not have to be guests of those hotels to use the shuttle.
- More hotel rooms and hotels will open up in the future. Executive Committee leadership is constantly working with the hotels in New Orleans to secure larger blocks of rooms at every hotel contracted.
The 2020 annual meeting’s cancellation due to COVID-19 and a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) presidential election including multiple candidates built interest for the 2021 Nashville gathering. It also led to the system crashing in October 2020 when reservations became available.
Nashville, indeed, would go on to be the largest annual meeting in 25 years. That interest carried over to the discovery in planning for the 2023 meeting that facilities in Charlotte would be insufficient for crowds, thus leading to the change of venue next year in New Orleans.
SBC President Bart Barber has announced the theme for 2023’s gathering as “Serving the Lord; Serving Others,” referencing 2 Corinthians 4:5. The SBC Pastors’ Conference will precede the annual meeting, with both taking place June 11-14.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)