The Southern Hotel
Originally established in 1907 as a physical and spiritual retreat where visitors could re-energize in a serene environment, the Southern Hotel hosted guests for more than 50 years. The iconic historic site served as a centerpiece for downtown Covington for decades. In recent years, the property served various uses before eventually falling into disrepair. In 2011, a group of developers purchased the property with plans to return it to its original use. After more than two years of extensive renovations, the historic Southern Hotel’s grand reopening was imminent. The owners enlisted Gambel Communications to promote the hotel’s reopening while also commemorating the 107th anniversary of the hotel’s original opening in 1907. This was an opportunity to increase awareness about the hotel, attract patrons, and also satiate the Northshore community’s excitement and curiosity about the long-awaited completion of the property.
Gambel Communications developed, coordinated and promoted a series of special events to generate public awareness of the hotel’s reopening. The events spanned a four-day period and included a media preview tour, a public ribbon cutting ceremony, a gala, and a champagne reception. To get the initial word out about the hotel’s reopening and to give media a sneak peek of the finished property before it officially opened to the public, Gambel Communications invited targeted local and regional media to attend a media preview tour of the hotel on Thursday, May 29. The tour was well-attended and resulted in extensive print, online and television coverage.
Gambel Communications also coordinated and promoted a public ribbon cutting ceremony at the hotel on Friday, May 30, which was attended by various civic leaders, including Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne; more than 250 community members; and multiple print and television media. We worked with local media, the Covington Mayor’s office, the Covington Business Association and other community organizations to generate public support and encourage event attendance.
We coordinated an Anniversary Preview Gala at the hotel on Saturday, May 31, and an Anniversary Champagne Reception on Sunday, June 1, which benefited two local nonprofit organizations. Guests were encouraged to attend the gala fundraiser in early-1900s costume to commemorate the 107th anniversary of the hotel’s original opening in 1907. The festive event included world-class cuisine prepared by Chef Jeffrey Hansell, the owner of the hotel’s signature restaurant Ox Lot 9; live music and dancing; a silent auction; and other fun surprises. The Anniversary Champagne Reception the following afternoon included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live jazz music, and a short film presentation on the history of the Southern Hotel. Leading up to these events, Gambel Communications launched an aggressive public relations campaign targeting local and regional media outlets, and community organizations. We created promotional posters for the events and distributed them in key areas around Covington. We also assisted the hotel with social media strategy to leverage the events. Gambel Communications garnered extensive television, print, online and radio coverage leading up to the events, which resulted in a complete ticket sellout.
Utilizing media and community relations, and special events, Gambel Communications helped to reaffirm the Southern Hotel’s vital role in Covington’s historic, economic and cultural life. We positioned the Southern Hotel as the Northshore’s premiere hotel destination; heightened community awareness and excitement over the hotel’s reopening; garnered extensive media coverage for the hotel across all platforms before, during and after the grand opening events; and helped to bolster the hotel’s social media presence.