An Interview With JAMNOLA: How They Opened to Sky-High Ticket Sales Mid-COVID.

New Orleans thrives on joy, art, and music. But after the last few months, folks in the Crescent City could certainly use another reason to smile.

And in the face of a global pandemic, we saw something special set up shop. It was a brand new experience breaking the downturned tourism mold with sell out tours and innovative safety precautions. Their approach to marketing seemed both unique and artfully tactical. 

This was a scoop for the tourism world.

Standing for “Joy, Art, Music, New Orleans,” JAMNOLA call themselves an immersive “Crescent-City themed cultural experience.” Indeed, the vibrant exhibits seem to defy definition. Every aspect of the space celebrates New Orleans culture, art, and life to the max, at a time when we need it most. Which is probably why they ended up selling out in their opening week.

We asked their creator, Jonny Liss, about his approach. He told his story about hiring a team, kickstarting a brand, and opening to the public – all at a time when the rest of us think twice about shaking hands. Unsurprisingly, he was full of tips that can benefit other local business owners, and even tourism professionals across the country.

Based on JAMNOLA’s success, here’s our blueprint for success in today’s challenging tourism climate. 

Take a hard look at every aspect of your business, and be flexible. 

Even though JAMNOLA is a huge success, not everything is exactly the way Johnny envisioned it would be.

Originally, he imagined some of the exhibits might be more interactive, with touch-and-feel components. Scratch that. They also never imagined that their most in-demand item to stock up on would be antibacterial spray. And they had to relinquish, at least temporarily, the idea of interactive wrist bands that offer up exhibit information with one tap, replacing them with touch-free QR codes instead. 

Even for businesses that are open and thriving right now, consider this a friendly reminder to look for ways to make the experience more COVID-friendly

Amplify your brand. 

JAMNOLA stayed true to their mission: to spread joy, art, and New Orleans culture. They work with local artists and look for ways to support the community (like their tee shirts that benefit Feed the Second Line). They truly embrace their brand and mission in every sense, from their vibrant Instagram feed to hiring “story tellers” rather than tour guides. 

And the very fact that they opened during a pandemic proves that they’re invested in New Orleans and dedicated to supporting the arts. 

All of those little pieces amount to one cohesive, authentic brand that just draws you in. 

The takeaway: stay true to the spirit of your unique promise, now more than ever. 

Be bold. 

The JAMNOLA team was ready to do things differently. Somewhere at the intersection between a museum and an event space, their whole business model is unique. And they embraced that. 

While the country’s coping with a pandemic, it might have been tempting to go with a soft opening and minimal resources, or even to put the opening on pause altogether. But that is not the JAMNOLA way. They invested in influencers and launched with a fully branded website and social platforms.

Their leap of faith paid off in a big way. Ticket sales exceeded expectations and they’ve been featured on Nola.com and Where Traveler, among others. 

So yeah. Go big or go home, even in an uncertain economic climate.

Digital Works.
JAMNOLA is everywhere on social and their website makes for direct, touchless ticketing. You can easily book private or semi-private guided visits online. Their safety precautions are clearly highlighted on the web and are visually evidenced through their seemingly endless social influencer posts! 

Cater to locals and visitors will come.

While JAMNOLA might be a tourist attraction at heart, they offer something that born-and-raised locals need right now.

If you are in New Orleans, we highly recommend stopping by. Take a break from the weirdest summer in memory, and have some safe, wacky fun. If you decide to visit between October 27th and 31st, you’ll be treated to a special Halloween exhibition, complete with performance artists and more.