Connections Housing Demonstrating Southern Hospitality for 30 Years
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.”