Connections Housing Demonstrating Southern Hospitality for 30 Years

November 25, 2016

In 1986, Madonna broke through the male-dominated music scene, Oprah Winfrey debuted her TV show, and Nancy Hallberg and Kris Sieradski launched Connections Housing in Atlanta.

The two women met after both moved to Atlanta to work in hotel sales (Hallberg from Kansas, Sieradski from Michigan). Hallberg likes to say that “Connections was born in a closet.”

In reality, they rented a small space near the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown Atlanta. It was just the two of them working in the business, other than Hallberg’s father who came in to answer the phone.

Back in those days, hotels kept reservations on note cards. Contracts were mailed out for signatures, and meeting space was recorded in physical diaries. Hallberg remembers the excitement of getting the first fax
machine for the office.

Early clients included Joe Corley’s Battle of Atlanta (who remains a client today) and the Atlanta Braves. Then in 1996, Connections was hired to get housing for all government agencies at the Summer Olympics,
including the Secret Service.

On the day everyone arrived, Hallberg learned the hotel wasn’t ready, so she rushed over to make beds, hang shower curtains, get towels, and whatever else it took to get her clients settled. The Secret Service was so impressed, they introduced her to President Clinton.

Today, many of the hotel contacts Connections worked with in the beginning are now running the hotels and various departments.

Hallberg and Sieradski credit much of their success to the fact that they are client-focused and make clients feel like family. In return, they have a retention rate of 98 percent.

Connections now works 250 events each year, ranging from 10 to over 100,000 attendees. They are known for their skilled contract negotiations and round-the-clock service. Two clients they’re most proud to serve as official housing partner are IMTS and Varsity Spirit. In September, IMTS hosted over 115,000 attendees in Chicago. Varsity Spirit hosts high-energy events with televised competitions like the NCA Nationals and Cheersport.

Services provided range from site selection, contract negotiation, and room block management to onsite services like overseeing arrivals and assisting with any housing concerns. They also work with meeting planners to drive reservations within the room block and conduct post-event audits to reduce attrition risk.

Both the office and employee roster have expanded to keep up with client growth. From that original small office of two, they moved to Decatur with a staff of 10 and four receptionists. Today their office in Suwanee (about an hour north of Atlanta) is home to about 100 employees with 25 receptionists. There are also offices in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.

Brad Weaber, who joined the company in 2014 as Chief Innovation Officer and now serves as Chief Operations Officer, said, “I’ve been in the meetings and hospitality industry for over 30 years and until I joined Connections I had never reported to a woman. Knowing Nancy and Kris, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Sieradski credits the company’s longevity to truly caring about clients and taking pride in doing the job right. She said she loves hearing clients say, “I had no idea it could be this good. Thank you.”

Add new comment

Partner Voices
HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.