Connecticut Convention Center That Michael Costelli, general manager of the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, is esteemed by his peers was amply proven in March, when he was deemed general manager of the year at the Annual Leadership Conference of the Waterford Hotel Group, whose subsidiary, Waterford Venue Services, manages the facility. Costelli, who says the best part of his job is "the interaction with people, and the fact that each day is different," recently took some time to chat with M&C.
What path led to your becoming a GM? When I was 15, I began working at the Ramada Inn in North Haven [Conn.]. During my seven years there, I worked in the kitchen, the engineering department, housekeeping -- I learned as much as I could about every aspect of hospitality. I left there as director of catering and began my career with the Waterford Hotel Group, where I've been for 24 years, and in 2005 I was appointed GM at the convention center.
What are the biggest challenges facing you at the center? One of the biggest is maintenance -- the center is a 540,000-square-foot facility. Another is keeping staff members motivated and focused on providing first-class service in an industry that can be quite demanding. We are fortunate to have an outstanding team in place here. Also, there is the ongoing challenge of keeping business coming here by letting prospective clients know what makes the center and Hartford so special.
How can planners best take advantage of what the center offers? Meeting planners should take advantage of the expertise that our event managers provide. Each planner is assigned an event manager for their specific event, someone who is an expert in a particular market segment. It is an outstanding resource for a planner to have.