Shreveport at a Glance
Location: Northwest Louisiana
Access: Shreveport Regional Airport, interstates 20 and 49
Hotel Rooms: 11,000
Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau
Shreveport Convention Center
Exhibit Space: 350,000 square feet
Hilton Hotel Shreveport
Guest Rooms: 313
Meeting Space: 95,000 square feet
Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino
Guest Rooms: 514
Meeting Space: 13,000 square feet
Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport
Guest Rooms: 403
Meeting Space: 5,916 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Shreveport
Society of American Travel Writers — Central States Chapter
Gold Wing Road Riders Association
Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners
Louisiana Society of Association Executives
When meeting and event planners think Louisiana, their first thought is likely New Orleans. And although the Big Easy has a lot to offer, it is far from the only place in the state that knows how to put on a good convention.
Take Shreveport-Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana. The cities, which are separated by the Red River, have a lot of attractions and amenities that ooze charm. Plus, they deliver another important characteristic for convention planners and attendees: affordability.
“We are two cities — Shreveport and Bossier City — connected by the Red River,” said Brandy Evans, vice president of communications for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “We promote the idea of a two-mile bubble because there are so many things you can find within that radius around the convention center.”
Among the top options in the bubble are the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets in the East Bank District on the Bossier City side and the gaming properties in downtown Shreveport. “And farther up Texas Street, you can check out the Robinson Film Center or grab a cocktail on the balcony at Abby Singer’s Bistro,” Evans said.
Two other local attractions, the Sci-Port Discovery Center and the Shreveport Aquarium, are also near the convention center. These science-themed places have tons of hands-on activities and interactive areas where visitors can learn more about the natural world. Both attractions help tell the story of the importance the Red River has played in the development of the region and the state, especially economically.
Evans said another thing that makes Shreveport so appealing is the people.
“I love how friendly and warm people are here, and when meeting planners come they experience that, too,” she said. “You get to be a big fish in a little pond here, and we will treat your group like royalty.”
Major Meeting Spaces
The Shreveport Convention Center is the hub of action for meetings and events. Located downtown overlooking Cross Bayou, the 14-year-old facility has more than 350,000 square feet, including 100,000 square feet of uninterrupted space on the main floor. The layout works well for major trade shows, as well as more intimate events such as corporate banquets and private receptions.
There is a rotunda room for smaller meetings, and part of the space pours out onto the balcony with views of the downtown area. The center also has an on-site museum that highlights athletes and sports figures from the area, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, NBA great Robert Parrish and broadcaster Tim Brando.
“Two things meeting planners love is that it is very easy to get around here and it is super affordable,” Evans said. “At many other convention destinations, you may encounter room rates of $250 or $300 with a two-or three-night minimum. That isn’t part of what you get in Shreveport because there are places to stay right by the convention center with reasonable room and parking rates.”
One of the main options convention-goers choose is the Hilton Hotel Shreveport. This full-service property, which is connected to the convention center, has 313 rooms spread across 12 floors and offers meeting spaces of its own.
Two downtown gaming properties — Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino and the Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport — give convention planners more choices. Sam’s Town has 514 rooms and 13,000 square feet of event space, and the Eldorado has 403 rooms and just under 6,000 square feet for meetings.
If ever there was place that lived up to the oft-overused phrase “hidden gem,” it is the Pavilion at Cross Lake.
“I’ve been living here 23 years, and I just discovered that there is a little island in Cross Lake which a family turned into an events venue,” said Evans. “It is a great off-site venue that is quintessential Louisiana with the cypress trees and the water with the Spanish dripping moss.”
A 15-minute boat ride takes visitors to the island, where they will find a pavilion for meals and receptions along with other great outdoor spaces. For another typical local experience, they can go on airboat rides around the lake.
Evans said three downtown spots — Artspace, The Lot and the Sci-Port Discovery Center — are great options for after-hours functions or receptions. An anchor for Shreveport’s thriving arts community, Artspace has two floors of galleries that feature works by local and regional artists.
“Recently I hosted a meeting there, and we had a reception upstairs with appetizers and live music; then we went downstairs for a sit-down dinner in the art gallery,” said Evans.
The Lot is a combo outdoor and indoor venue. The building, which served as Shreveport’s bus depot for decades, and its grounds have been transformed into a multiuse entertainment venue. Evans said there is live music from Thursday through Sunday outside along with food trucks. The indoor space includes a bar and has a stage that has been used for everything from smaller performances to a boxing event.
“We’ve also used Sci-Port and done things like scavenger hunts there that take advantage of their huge space,” said Evans. “That is a super fun and interesting place, and they love having groups there for special events.”
After The Meeting
Three other renowned aspects of Shreveport culture worth discovering before you “leave the building” are food, roses and music.
“A fun activity for groups is a culinary experience at Us Up North restaurant,” said Evans. “Chef Hardette Harris serves a meal featuring products grown and raised on local waterways and farms — think fried fish, sweet potatoes and collard greens — that locals eat at home.”
Harris also does culinary tours that start at Us Up North and then continue on to some of her favorite places, where hungry visitors can sample more foods that represent northern Louisiana.
The American Rose Society (ARS) chose to make its home in Shreveport because the climate allows for two growing seasons, one in April and one in October. Evans recommends a group experience called All About Roses, during which participants learn about the society and the gardens, sample rose-flavored jelly and tour the beautiful grounds at the ARS headquarters.
Did you know Elvis’ first live performance was in Shreveport? That story and many others are part of a backstage music tour through downtown that includes a stop at the Municipal Auditorium.
“Elvis actually got his start here on ‘Louisiana Hayride,’ which you’d equate to our present-day ‘American Idol,’” said Evans. “As part of ‘Hayride,’ bands performed at Municipal, and on October 16, 1954, Elvis gave his very first performance.
“The story goes that during a concert at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum after he’d made it big, there were as many people outside the building as inside,” she said. “To help keep things under control, an official said, ‘Elvis has left the building’ at one point, which is where the phrase originated.”
When groups visit Municipal Auditorium on the tour, they hear more about the venue’s rich musical history. In addition to going behind the curtain, members can get up onstage and belt out a tune. There also is an appearance by an Elvis impersonator, who performs some of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s top hits.