Weekly Wire
Gambit Weekly `Best of New Orleans' Lives Up to Its Name

By Andre E. Maillho

SEPTEMBER 15, 1997:  If television and telephones revolutionized entertainment and communications, the World Wide Web combines the two media and adds interactivity to create an exciting way for people around the world to share information. Sites like Gambit Communications' Best of New Orleans take advantage of the web's capability to reach people around the world -- and for them to reach us.

Gambit's Best of New Orleans website (www.bestofneworleans.com), which will mark two years on the Web in January, has logged consistently high traffic and has received "visits" from people in 66 countries. The site's popularity is testament to New Orleans' standing as one of the world's premier destinations.

"Our mission is to provide locals, visitors and the world with what's worth knowing, doing and seeing in New Orleans," said Marlande Mauberret, Gambit Communications' website marketing and promotions director.

"Two things set the site apart," she said. "One is its comprehensiveness. We have all the information about New Orleans that locals as well as visitors want. The second is its timeliness. The site is updated weekly because it's tied to the publication of Gambit Weekly."

Mauberret added that Gambit's online partnerships -- including projects with Microsoft's Music Central, BellSouth.net, Yahoo! and WeeklyWire -- ensure that the Best of New Orleans reaches a huge audience.

In addition to Mauberret, Gambit's Internet team consists of staffers Kevin Stierwald and Maria Vidacovich, who manage and update the site, and Mike Perry, an Internet consultant whose company, ICorp, is lending its technology to the effort. And Bennett Brecht of Opus Media, Corp., who helped create and launch Gambit's original web site, continues to be involved in the project.

The centerpiece of the site is the online version of Gambit Weekly's popular Restaurant Guide, which includes information about more than 400 restaurants along with an archive of reviews, chef profiles and recipes from some of the finest chefs in the area.

Currently, Best of New Orleans is changing its online Restaurant Guide to an interactive format. Perry is applying his company's wizardry to the site so that visitors will be able to customize searches for restaurant information. Soon, someone in Finland could search for Creole food in the French Quarter.

But there's more to the site than the Restaurant Guide. Best of New Orleans also contains comprehensive club, gallery and (coming soon) movie listings, an updated list of regional events and festivals (including complete coverage of Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest), Gambit Weekly's Classifieds, and a Marketplace for advertisers to showcase their goods and services.

The site also features a section called "Coming to New Orleans," which lists details about hotels, bed & breakfasts, shopping, tours, transportation, cooking schools and much more. In another new partnership, Best of New Orleans is joining forces with tourism leader Warren Reuther's Hospitality Enterprises to present the company's full range of services for visitors.

Of course, the site also contains the full edition of the award-winning Gambit Weekly, so transplanted natives and anyone else interested in the Crescent City can keep tabs on what's happening in the Big Easy.

Getting information about New Orleans across the country and around the world is a vital part of keeping the city's tourism economy churning. Gambit Communications' web site is contributing to that effort by spreading the word about all that the city has to offer -- truly, the Best of New Orleans. .

André E. Maillho

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