People Make The Difference
CMP, DMCP, President
It is safe to say that I always knew I would follow an entrepreneurial path. As a young boy growing up in Upstate New York, I took on a newspaper route as soon as I was old enough, at the age of 12. Many kids didn’t think much of slogging through the snow in the dark for two hours after school every day, but for me it was an opportunity to gain some financial freedom. I used the contacts I made on the newspaper route to gain customers for my snow shoveling and lawn mowing services. Snow days were great – no school AND I could make some money! In the summer I hauled a model of perhaps the first ever gasoline powered lawnmower (My Dad must have picked it up at a garage sale in the 60’s. He was never big on “modern conveniences.” Still doesn’t have cable) around the neighborhood, knocking on everyone’s door whose grass seemed too long. That old mower needed a few tricks to get it started each time, but it was worth the effort to pick up spending and saving money. I saved enough money to buy a 1973 Plymouth Duster and drive to my first job at the Grand Union Supermarket in Kingston when I was 15. After graduating from the Hospitality Management program at Florida State University, I forgot about the entrepreneurial instinct for a bit, figuring I was going to be the President of a big hotel company, and launched my career with Sheraton Hotels and Resorts (ITT Sheraton back in those days, for those that were around and remember). I began in the year- long Management Training Program at the Sheraton Bal Harbour in Miami Beach, which led to management positions at the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore and then at the Sheraton New Orleans. After three and a half years working for an incredible GM – Bob Foster – he left to open the Sheraton Chicago, and we got a new GM. It didn’t take long to realize his micro-management style and me were not going to be a good fit, so I left. Since 1996, I have started 11 companies – 3 Bed and Breakfasts, a hotel (in Bunkie, LA!), an internet reservation business, a car rental business, 2 real estate ventures and a couple more. Some were sold for a nice profit, some ran their natural course and a couple didn’t do so well. Terry Jackson and I have three active companies together and continually look for new opportunities while I lead the incredible team at AlliedPRA New Orleans. In 1997 I founded Crescent Hospitality, which is the company that became AlliedPRA when we bought into the system in 2002. At first we were strictly dealing in hotel rooms – pre-internet (Yes, there was such a time!) – there was a great need for this service. As we grew, we added more and more DMC services to the mix, and from there AlliedPRA New Orleans was born. The thing most entrepreneurs will tell you they like the best is the freedom, and I am no different. The freedom to take risks, make your own decisions and have some control over your fate. And not wear a tie. I also started down the road with the simple goal of making money on my own abilities. While it has worked out pretty well in that aspect (9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession notwithstanding – I have become pretty good at restarts!), what I enjoy most is developing people and giving them great career opportunities. I love it when team members excel and grow into new roles. Some business owners dread payroll, but for me I love it because that money coming out of the bank account means people are living good lives and supporting families and lifestyles. I have paid out over $10 million dollars in payroll, and nothing gives me more satisfaction. My team at AlliedPRA has grown into an Award Winning group of professionals. We are a five-time winner of the AlliedPRA Highest Client Satisfaction Award, named to the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America twice and named to the Seminole 100 – Fastest Growing Private Companies owned by FSU Alumni. In addition, our team has taken home numerous personal professional awards. I have even been awarded a United States Patent for Transportation Technology that we developed! Large corporations have so much internal politics and silos it is maddening, but in an entrepreneurial business it is all about the team and making everyone successful. It is so much fun I doubt I will ever stop working.
CMP, DMCP, General Manager
It all started over 30 years ago when I graduated from LSU in Baton Rouge. I was the typical college grad needing a job. I had worked summers and breaks for major oil companies in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and thought for sure my part-time jobs would land me that high dollar position with a great benefits package following graduation. WRONG! Oil industry folks were getting laid off. Not the right time to get in! Swallowing my pride, I moved back home with my parents and accepted an administrative assistant positon with the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Got my foot in the door! Yes, I had earned a B.S. in Business and my annual starting salary was $10,500 – enough money to pay my car note and $100 rent to my parents with little left over.
At that time, I was thinking this hotel job was just a temporary thing till I found something that paid more! WRONG again! My job was fun, exciting, and I enjoyed it! Work hard, play hard, and advancement opportunities are unlimited. I met the love of my life at the hotel. I was a Convention Services Manager and he (Billy, my husband) was an engineer. Despite advice from the general manager at the time that our engagement would never last, we got married. Our wedding reception was at the hotel and was one of those catering bookings that got booted out of its space for ballroom renovation! But, I’m happy to say the wedding was a smashing success, and we recently celebrated our 30-year milestone and have two beautiful sons, Hunter (born during hunting season) and Tanner (who was going to be named Fisher, but I couldn’t sign the birth certificate).
Little did I know then that I would be the appointed Director of Sales responsible for rebranding and repositioning a flagship hotel that had been closed for six years following Hurricane Katrina, and that I would be developing relationships throughout my sales career with major association and corporate clients like the NFL and NCAA. No need to bore you regurgitating facts about my career advancement. If you’re really curious, everything you want to know is on my LinkedIn profile. My passion for continued success both professionally and personally without leaving New Orleans lead me to my next chapter …..
That’s when I connected with Jeff O’Hara, our President and Owner in New Orleans. Our conversation about what he needed and what I wanted to do fit a like a glove. It’s been an opportunity for me to create lifetime memories for clients and their guests in a city I truly hold dear to my heart. Equally important, it’s been an opportunity to lead our next generation into amazing hospitality partners and to give back to our hospitality community through my leadership role as the Director of Education for our MPI local chapter. Who is AlliedPRA? Just ask any of our hotel partners in New Orleans or see what our clients have to say about us on www.nolameetings.com.
DMCP, Senior Event Producer
Although I was born and raised in New Orleans, I ironically never thought I would end up in the hospitality or events industry. Looking back, how could I not have predicted it as I spent so many days surrounding myself with the city’s beautiful history and culture…Mom’s red beans and rice on Mondays, never missing parades, devouring King Cakes, Saturdays in Jackson Square looking admiring the art and old buildings, watching my Dad scream at the Saints for football on Sundays… and so many more New Orleanian memories that have shaped who I am today and my desire to share my city and its uniqueness with all.
In 2004, my career began in luxury hotel management and I started from the ground up. Over the years, I learned to master the process of the guest experience and how to anticipate needs and exceed expectations. My experience opening The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria property, taught me how to keep calm under pressure and start every project with a strategic system no matter what hat I may be wearing. The more I interfaced with event planners in the hotels I worked at, the more I enjoyed working on the details of an event. I loved seeing clients’ expressions when their visions came to life and I wanted to be a part of that excitement. It made me realize there was more out there than just what was inside the four walls of a hotel. Therefore, in 2014 my career in business event management began and I haven’t looked back. Since becoming a corporate event planner, I have earned by DMCP and am currently working toward my CMP. I have created so many memorable experiences that I hope clients and their guests talk about for many more years to come. I also discovered that New Orleans has so much more to offer than I ever knew existed.
Some of my favorite things to do in New Orleans is grab a muffuletta from Central Grocery or a po-boy from Johnny’s and take a stroll along the riverfront. My husband and I love having date nights with cocktails and live music – which can be found anytime, anywhere. Now raising my own son, I’m able to continue traditions like parades and king cakes and also create new ones like riding the street car to the Audubon Zoo and picnics in City Park. A lot of our weekends are spent jumping from field to field whether for soccer or baseball, so snowballs are always on deck after game days.
Sharing all aspects of my city with clients and seeing everything through their eyes is what makes my job so wonderful. If they’re only here for a short time, I want to make sure it’s a GREAT time. After visiting, you may leave New Orleans, but it never leaves you.
Monica Price was born in Boca Raton, Florida. When she was four years old, her family moved to Slidell, LA to be closer to her Dad’s side of the family from New Orleans. She has been immersed in the very unique New Orleans culture since she was young – and loves everything about it.
She graduated from LSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. After LSU, she went on to work with the New Orleans Baby Cakes baseball team in the Social Media and Marketing Department for two years. Then, she worked for the New Orleans Pelicans Basketball team in the game day operations, promotions and events departments. Monica has also worked in the Marketing department at an Engineering firm, and at a Grants Disaster Recovery firm.
Monica is a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan and loves LSU Football and Baseball. In her spare time, you can catch her adoring and petting every dog she sees. Holidays are a favorite of hers, with Mardi Gras and Christmas holding the top two spots. Adding to the list of her favorites, everything Disney!
“People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working.” – Walt Disney
Monica has joined PRA in 2019 and is excited to work with the New Orleans team in sharing the essence of New Orleans.