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Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association Strengthens Convention Sales Department with Staff Addition March 30, 2009

Posted by ICVA Communications in Conventions & Meetings, ICVA Business.
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) announces the hiring of Lesly Connolly as National Sales Manager in the ICVA’s Washington, D.C. satellite office. 

In her role with the ICVA, Connolly will work to attract business to Indianapolis from associations, corporations and other organizations utilizing 1,000 or more room-nights on peak.  Connolly brings more than 10 years of diverse experience in the hospitality and travel/tourism industries to the ICVA sales team.  Connolly most recently served as the convention sales manager with the Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

The mission of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is to advance Indianapolis tourism and economic growth.  The ICVA seeks to increase the number of visitors and their financial impact, expand positive perception of Indianapolis, and positively influence the visitor experience.  According to a Global Insight report, in partnership with D.K. Shifflet & Associates, 22 million visitors annually provide $3.56 billion in total annual economic impact of tourism on the Indianapolis economy resulting in 66,600 full-time equivalent employment positions in the hospitality industry.


American Library Association Coming to Indy March 30, 2009

Posted by ICVA Communications in Conventions & Meetings, Expansion & New Development, ICVA Business.
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INDIANAPOLIS – The American Library Association will bring its 2021 Midwinter Meeting to Indianapolis.  The meeting, Jan. 22-27, 2021, is expected to attract 11,000 attendees and fill more than 18,000 hotel rooms, according to the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA).  Visitor spending is estimated at $11.6 million.

“As a result of the Indiana Convention Center expansion, the new Marriott Place hotel package and the continued enhancements of our downtown facilities, the American Library Association is the type of customer we are now able to attract,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of the ICVA. “It is our furthest booking out and we’re thrilled to have them in Indianapolis for the first time in their history.”

Other cities hosting the ALA in upcoming years include Boston, San Diego, Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The mission of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is to advance Indianapolis tourism and economic growth.  The ICVA seeks to increase the number of visitors and their financial impact, expand positive perception of Indianapolis and positively influence the visitor experience.  According to a Global Insight report, in partnership with D.K. Shiffllet & Associates, 21.9 million visitors annually provide $3.56 billion in total annual economic impact of tourism on the Indianapolis economy resulting in 66,621 full-time equivalent employment positions in the hospitality industry.

Outstanding Hospitality Professionals Honored with Coveted ICVA ROSE Awards March 5, 2009

Posted by ICVA Communications in Uncategorized.
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association’s 18th annual ROSE Awards presented by United Water saluted 89 hospitality honorees at the Indiana Roof Ballroom tonight. More than 600 of their friends and professional associates joined Mayor Greg Ballard in congratulating the men and women who are the best of the best in the hospitality industry. The gala celebrates one of the greatest reasons why Indianapolis is known as an outstanding place to host meetings and events – excellence in customer service.

ROSE is an acronym that stands for Recognition Of Service Excellence. The ROSE Awards honor employees who positively influence a visitors’ experience in Indianapolis, whether through one-on-one contact or behind the scenes actions.

“What sets Indianapolis apart are our ROSE honorees and the thousands of others in the Indianapolis hospitality industry who make those one-on-one personal connections with our visitors and who give our city a face, a voice, a smile and a helping hand. Giving these people their due recognition is what the ROSE Awards are all about,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of the ICVA.

Supervisors nominated honorees based on their courteous attitude, knowledge of the workplace and the city, ability to meet and exceed customer expectations and problem solving skills. These individuals have one-on-one contact with convention delegates, tourists, business travelers and meeting planners, or are behind-the-scenes people who positively influence a visitor’s experience. They represent their companies and city as true ambassadors of good will.

A panel of community leaders served as judges to select 12 individuals among the honorees as ROSE Award recipients for lifetime achievement and for exceptional service in their position. These recipients are showcased below.

As one of Indianapolis’ most important industries, tourism contributes an estimated $3.56 billion to the Marion County economy annually and supports more than 66,000 full time equivalent jobs.

The ROSE Awards will be televised locally on My-INDY TV on Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m.


Kirstin “Kiki” Commons
Audio-Visual Technician
Markey’s Rental and Staging
While an employee of Markey’s, Commons is recognized for her work at one of Markey’s contractors, the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In nominating Commons, numerous NCAA employees variously praised her enthusiasm, poise and warmth. She also was cited for her attention to detail, adaptability and ability to meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment. A 2002 graduate of Ball State University, Commons has advanced from an entry level position as a hotel technician to working on-site daily at the NCAA’s national headquarters.

Darren Fish
Valet, Concierge
Towne Park
While an employee of Towne Park, Fish earned a ROSE Award for his work at two downtown hotels. At the valet ramp of the Omni Severin, Fish was cited for his enthusiastic welcomes and treatment of guests arriving by car. But he also works seven days a week at a second job as a concierge lounge attendant at the nearby Westin Indianapolis. Says his nominator, “If you want to understand why Indianapolis is revered for its hospitality,” you only need to see our ROSE Award winner in action.

Susana Galarza
Breakfast Hostess
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites City Center
A nearly instant turnaround in breakfast service earned Susana Galarza ROSE Award recognition. “From the minute she started,” said her nominator at the Holiday Inn Express City Center. “The compliments began to roll in.” Galarza’s efforts eventually affected others. Her nominator wrote her “genuine caring attitude and dedication to excellent service spread amongst employees in every department in our hotel.”

One guest wrote, “I came down for breakfast the morning after a big sell off on Wall Street and an hour of CNN’s gloom and doom on the economy. She greeted me with a big smile and convinced me she had one of the best jobs in the world and was happy for all the opportunities this country had given her and what a great place it was to live. I needed that!”

Betty Garrison
Mass Ave Pub
With more than 40 years in the hospitality industry, Betty Garrison – described as “an Indianapolis icon” – is recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been a waitress at the Mass Ave Pub for seven years. She previously worked at the Lamplighter, Cozy and Distillery. Her current employer cited Garrison for an immediate increase in lunchtime business because of the contacts she had built up over the years. “Her genuine concern for people, unwavering positivity and friendly approach draw people to her. She is one in a million and I’m privileged to spend every Monday through Friday lunch with her,” her nominator wrote. A former employer called Garrison, “the best waitress I’ve ever seen in nearly 30 years of being in the restaurant and bar business.”

Nicki Kasting
Museum Store Clerk
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Nicki Kasting’s employer cited her determination to keep working after suffering personal injury in an automobile accident and again after her home and belongings were destroyed in the June floods. She has been with the Eiteljorg for 17 years, and works in the Museum’s store. She is credited with her knowledge of American Indians and Western art and culture and a gift for communication and humor. As an example of exceptional customer service, Kasting received a phone call from a customer desperately looking for a special Christmas gift, then drove through an ice storm to personally deliver the gift. Her nominator also cited Kasting as being both for the Eiteljorg and the entire city, enthusiastically providing visitors information on other attractions or offering dining suggestions.

Robert Linehan
Lead Server
Pullman’s Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza at Historic Union Station
Linehan is honored for exceptional service. An employee at Pullman’s for seven years, he has quickly advanced from bussing tables to lead server, where he now is charged with training others on the wait staff. One guest told hotel management that Linehan is “the best server I ever have encountered.” His nominator said Linehan’s “sincere and caring attitude is unparalleled. He is a truly great person and a star in our industry. He represents what the entire staff at our hotel works to achieve every day, which is complete customer satisfaction.” Linehan stated that his favorite day to work each year is Thanksgiving because he wants to help his guests feel at home away from home on the holiday. Linehan was the March, 2008, associate of the month and the 2008 Associate the Year at the Crowne Plaza. He has worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years.

Nikki Miller
Renaissance Indianapolis North
Nikki Miller is being recognized for her outstanding efforts in hosting the concierge lounge at the new Renaissance Indianapolis North. The hotel general manager labeled her as “guest-centric.” One of the guests wrote to say, “She is the best concierge I’ve ever seen in any hotel I’ve ever stayed. I will be back because of her.”

This from another guest: “She is hands down the best hostess I have ever come across in a Marriott property anywhere. I have never come across a hostess as efficient and excellent in their job as she is.”

And finally, “As a business traveler who looks for the little extra touches that differentiate, she is what differentiates this property. Congratulations to the management team for having the foresight to hire a person who has the ability to draw each of us back to this property.” Nikki is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry, and joined the Renaissance when it opened a year ago. She was honored as the hotel’s first associate of the month.

Donna Nicholson
The Capital Grille
This ROSE Award winner was recognized, in part, for stepping forward to help family and friends of a wounded Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer. A server at The Capital Grille at the Conrad Indianapolis, Nicholson arranged with the chef to have 30 meals prepared, and then delivered them to Wishard Hospital where the family of critically wounded officer Jason Fishburn was gathering for a nightly vigil. Her nominator wrote that this outreach to others is typical of Nicholson, who “helps us live our core values and, as a certified trainer, helps us to teach our core values and service standards to the rest of our team.” Her employer says they receive numerous letters from guests praising her jovial, engaged tableside manners. With 25 years in the hospitality industry, Nicholson qualifies for Lifetime Achievement recognition.

AJ Rea
Personal Shopper
Nordstrom’s at Circle Centre
AJ Rea is honored for providing extraordinary customer service in her role as a personal shopper. A four-year employee of Nordstrom, she was cited for providing “exceptional shopping experience that is fun and memorable.” One customer wrote that Rea made her feel “like a new woman.” Beyond her duties as personal shopper at Nordstom, AJ also conducts Dress for Success seminars, helping instill confidence in young women who are beginning their professional careers. Nordstrom also recognized AJ as a customer service all-star in 2008.

Shirley Rameses
Journey Ambassador
Hilton Indianapolis
Shirley Rameses is recognized for outstanding service to both guests and staff at the Hilton Indianapolis. Her nominator wrote, “She has this infectious, upbeat, outgoing, all-is-right-with-the-world attitude that lifts the spirits of everyone she comes in contact with. Time and again, we received positive feedback and hear about great experiences attributed to her caring and hospitable personality. A guest commented that her hotel stay had been the best she’d ever had because of Rameses’s “sensitive and caring actions.” Another guest relayed how a wedding day was saved when Rameses mended a torn wedding dress. A conference planner said the hotel had his business “for life” because of her warmth and personality. And still another guest wrote Rameses to say, “You were used by God to lift my spirits.” Rameses has spent seven years in the hospitality industry, all with the Hilton Indianapolis.

Leslie Reimmer
Loss Prevention Officer
Indianapolis Marriott Downtown
Leslie Reimmer is honored because of her energy, positive attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure outstanding customer service. Beyond her role in loss prevention, her nominator said it’s not uncommon to see Reimmer helping the housekeeping staff, cleaning the lobby, giving guests directions or assisting the valet in parking cars. In her role in loss prevention, she once dug through the trash to find some important personal papers a guest had left behind. On another occasion, when a young boy had come to Indianapolis to do holiday shopping with his parents lost the money he had saved for the occasion, Reimmer took up an impromptu collection and delivered a small amount of money –along with cookies – to the youngster’s hotel room (the boy’s money later was found). Reimmer has been with the Marriott Downtown five years, also working as a hostess, in the front office and as a concierge. Overall, she has been in the hospitality industry more than 15 years.

Henry Robinson
Bell Captain and Concierge
Indianapolis Marriott East
Numerous testimonials from hotel guests enabled Henry Robinson to be honored with a ROSE Award. One guest noted that when she arrived at the Marriott East with her elderly mother, Robinson unloaded her mother’s wheelchair, helped her inside and fetched a glass of iced tea while family members checked in. Upon learning of the lady’s recent eye surgery, Robinson then went to the gift shop and purchased a satin sleep mask for the woman. Finally, after hearing it was her 85th birthday, he improvised a birthday cake and had the staff join in singing happy birthday.

Another guest wrote of Robinson, “It was almost like being some sort of royalty or Hollywood star, with him acting as your ambassador. What a real gem of an employee.” Said another guest: “I want to single out the bellman. He was so attentive I could swear he was assigned as my personal concierge.” And this from another: “He is the best asset of Marriott Hotels and Resorts. He is now my angel and the Marriott’s angel. He deserves acknowledgement and appreciation. I also recommend a pay raise.” Robinson has been with the Indianapolis Marriott East for one year and is in his fourth year in the hospitality industry.