REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK;NEW ORLEANS GREETS LODGING CONFERENCE

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A reporter's-eye view of the Economy Lodging Conference, held recently in New Orleans.

Gaming is taking some hits in New Orleans. Hilton Hotels and New Orleans Paddlewheels, owners of the Flamingo casino, confirmed the Flamingo will probably be sold to Hyatt Hotels, which has a customer for the boat in Indiana. Hilton, which has the boat docked on the Mississippi next to its New Orleans property, would then bring back the smaller Queen of New Orleans. Flamingo employs 675, while the Queen needs only about 400 workers. Hilton believes the smaller Queen will handle the smaller crowds better. Meanwhile, Harrah's, which recently laid off 400 workers due to a lack of business, will open its new casino next summer. The drop in business has caused Harrah's to slow its percentage of payments to the city. Reason for the drop: "Harrah's hasn't done any marketing to New Orleans," said a local hotelier.

Think New Orleans isn't a convention town? When a group of convention-goers took a cab ride to one of the city's fine restaurants and told the cab driver they were in town for a convention, the cabbie asked, "How many thousands of you are here?" The economy lodging meeting drew a mere 250 people, by the way.

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