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Travel service Expedia plans to set up regional hub operation in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS - The Expedia family of travel booking websites plans to make New Orleans a regional hub.

New Orleans CityBusiness reports (http://bit.ly/1rpoyT6) its new office in downtown New Orleans could have six employees by year's end.

Ted Bogan, who has worked with Expedia Inc. since 2012 and in New Orleans since last year, was until recently its only local employee. He's now the senior market manager who will lead the local team in forging relationships with the hospitality industry to offer package deals through Expedia's websites.

Expedia Inc. is the parent of Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com and about 170 travel websites.

Bogan said the company's mission is in line with marketing efforts from the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which involve "selling the whole city" and not just focusing on the French Quarter.

Among the international visitors Expedia intends to target are those from Australia and New Zealand, where Bogan said the company has been "investing big" with advertising and website campaigns featuring New Orleans-based packages.

Convention and Visitors Bureau research shows Britain, China and Brazil have consistently sent the most overseas visitors to New Orleans. Australia is considered ripe for potential visitors. "They're increasingly interested in New Orleans," Bogan said.

Kim Priez, vice-president of tourism for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, cited Commerce Department numbers that show nearly 28,000 Australians visited New Orleans in 2012. Last year, the total climbed to at least 35,000, she said.

As a hub, Expedia's New Orleans office will reach out to establish partnerships in markets such as Mobile, Alabama, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The entire region was previously handled through Expedia's Dallas office, Bogan said.

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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