I would like to share some of my excitement about the Connecticut Hospitality Awareness Training program, or CHAT for short, an ambitious program with a new website being created by the Connecticut Tourism Coalition to best prepare frontline personnel in tourism, food service and other sectors of the hospitality industry in Connecticut.
While some destinations have launched similar ideas, no other organization has ever presented a definitive hospitality training program exactly like CHAT in Connecticut. By providing expert training on important hospitality fundamentals, CHAT will position Connecticut as an industry-leading destination for visitors, while ensuring that the CTC satisfies the education component of its 501 (c) (4). The CHAT program features a video and seven interactive online course modules, allowing participants to retain the knowledge of hospitality fundamentals and skills in the coursework. The training will build and cultivate a sense of pride in Connecticut’s hospitality industry for restaurant servers, hotel workers, attraction or museum personnel, and retail clerks, as they learn first-hand the value of better understanding how visitors perceive our region and how to provide the best service.
The CHAT program includes a website that will host seven modules and provide a platform for online enrollment. A 75 to 90 minute training program will highlight multiple different topics. Topics include “Why Tourism is Important;” “How to Make Visitors Feel Welcome;” “Key Connecticut Attractions;” and “The Fundamentals of Hospitality Service.” At the end of the program, participants will be given a Certificate of Achievement. The benefits of this first-of –its-kind effort for the economy of our state are obvious: The hospitality industry alone has brought around 118,500 jobs and brings a large return of investment to the State of Connecticut. It is essential that service personal are educated in their field in order to represent out industry and state in the best way possible. It is my hope that our state’s hospitality industry will benefit greatly from this exciting new program. We look forward to launching the new website and modules in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more news on CHAT!
Member Spotlight: Cashman + Katz
Cashman + Katz is a communications agency with a specialties in advertising, media buying, public relations, and video/ audio production. After over 25 years of business, Cashman + Katz has grown to become one of the largest players in advertising and public relations in Connecticut. Through their theory of Octagration, the company focuses on eight different challenges for clients. It’s their own brand of integration and a perfect fit for their uniquely-shaped headquarters – eight key disciplines within eight walls. Offices, creative spaces, production studios and research facilities all collaborate together, under one octagonal roof. This system highlights the efficiency and benefits of having every service you could need in one place.
Integration is key to success at Cashman + Katz. Firm believers in the power of integrated ideas and investors in the culture and process that creates them, these professionals know that two heads are better than one. Both Cashman + Katz employees and clients represent diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, skill sets, favorite coffee flavors, and everything in between. The multi-dimensionality of the team allows the company to face challenges from many different sides.
The integrated communication company’s headquarters is based in Glastonbury CT, with other offices in New York and Boston. The company offers a full focus group room in house, complete with on staff recruiters and moderators, a private client viewing room and lounge, and full audio/ visual monitoring. The agency is equipped with professionals ready to help with everything from Branding and Advertising to Buying and Digital Media, giving you the creative foundation for every communication need moving forward.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: TIM HERBST
A proven reformer and Hartford outsider, Tim Herbst has spent the last eight years as Trumbull’s First Selectman leading a remarkable turnaround. At 29, he is the youngest first selectman in town history. Herbst refused a town pension and reduced the number of political appointees who were pension eligible. All new hires were given a contribution plan and health care contributors were increased across the board for all appointees.
Before Herbst took office in 2009, the town was faced with a broken pension system and a chronic spending problem. Bond ratings downgraded Trumbull’s credit rating, the pension system was funded at just 27%, and taxes had increased 54% in the last eight years. Herbst took swift action by working with labor leaders and stakeholders to tackle the root of the problem. He reformed the town government and attracted more businesses to the area. During his first 100 days in office, he identified $1 million in operational savings in the town budget.
The Trumbull pension system is now fully funded with few employees from before Herbst took office. He successfully balanced eight budgets, delivered two tax cuts, and modernized nine Trumbull schools, all while increasing technology in the classroom and enhancing school security.
Herbst graduated with honors from Trinity College and earned his law degree from Pace University School of Law, where he was on the Pace Environmental Law Review. He was elected to the Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission when he was only 19 years old, serving ten years, four as Chairman.
CONNECTICUT TOURISM COALITION
Mourns the Loss of 3 Tourism Champions
(From The Day)
Felix David Rappaport of Las Vegas, Nev., 65, was called to eternal rest on Monday, June 18, 2018, in Mashantucket. He died from heart related illness. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Louise Rappaport; his two loving daughters, Alexandra Rappaport and Briana Rappaport; and his brother, Eric Rappaport. It is fitting that Felix was raised in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, as he demonstrated love and kindness to everyone he encountered. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Felix began his long and illustrious career in the gaming and hospitality industry, from human resources at the Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, to vice president/president of multiple Las Vegas properties, to CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. Although his interests were many and varied, the most important to him were “Faith, Family and Friends.” His dedication to them was shown in immeasurable ways. He made it his life’s work to enhance the lives of his family and friends, whether it was through small gestures like giving a simple yet thoughtful gift or through large gestures like providing someone with an opportunity that launched their careers.
(From Carmon Funeral Home)
Joe DaCosta, 55, of South Windsor, CT, loving husband of 30 years to Elise (Messer) DaCosta, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 13, 2018 at Hartford Hospital with his family at his side. Born in the Azores, Portugal, the son of Joao and Maria (Ferreira) DaCosta of Rocky Hill, where he grew up and lived before moving to South Windsor thirty years ago. For the last seven years he has worked at Sysco Connecticut starting as Director of Multi-Unit Sales and most recently as Vice President of Sales where he met many people who have a special place in his heart. He enjoyed golfing, watching the New York Yankees, Real Madrid, and most importantly spending time with his family and friends. In addition to his wife, and his parents, he is survived by his beloved sons, Joseph DaCosta of New York, NY, Matthew DaCosta of Somerville, MA, and Michael DaCosta of South Windsor; his brother, John DaCosta and his wife Chrysa of Topsfield, MA; his sister, Luisa Machado and her husband Jason of Ellington; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Edward and Peggy Messer of South Windsor; two brothers-in-law, Eddie Messer of Manchester, and Greg Messer and his wife Patty of Charlestown, MA; two sisters-in-law, Charlotte Gildea and her husband Mark of Bridgewater, MA, and Kara Forde and her husband Adrian of Sudbury, MA and several nieces and nephews.
RAYMOND YAKAITIS, JR.
(From the Hartford Courant)
Ray Yakaitis, Jr., 59, fiercely devoted and immensely adored Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Grandfather, Friend, and go-to guy for laughs, wildly inappropriate antics and legendary fun times, shell-shocked us all by passing away unexpectedly on March 11, 2018. Ray was the consummate family man with a heart as big as the continental US, a heart given effortlessly to his family, friends and clients. His innate good nature and generosity were boundless. A caretaker above all, Ray leaves behind a profound legacy, both personally and professionally. A respected Financial Advisor for 30+ years, Ray became close friends with many of his clients and took immense pride in addressing the broad spectrum of their financial concerns and needs while advising them like he would family members. He leaves to celebrate his large legacy, adored wife and best friend of 37 years, Ruth, sons Raymond and fiancée’ Lindsay, Michael and wife Lauren, and his adored grandchildren, his beloved mother Marilyn, seven tight knit Yakaitis siblings and spouses, and many other relatives.
Fortifying our Frontline
When visitors come to our state, the service they receive can make or break their experience. If the people they encounter are helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable, they’re more likely to enjoy their trip to Connecticut—and come back in the future. That’s why it’s so important for our frontline personnel—restaurant servers, hotel workers, retail clerks, and others—to have the tools they need to exceed expectations and deliver a positive experience to travels.
The Connecticut Tourism Coalition is proud to launch a new initiative: the Tourism Awareness Training Program. Sponsorship partners currently include Foxwoods Resort Casino, Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, and the Connecticut Wedding Group—and sponsorship opportunities remain available.
Using a mix of video and interactive modules, we will provide a comprehensive educational program to help our frontline personnel understand the importance of tourism to our region and give visitors a better overall experience. Studies show that positive interactions with servers and hotel clerks are key to ensuring tourists enjoy themselves and return to our attractions.
Other regions have launched similar initiatives to great results. I am deeply proud that the Coalition will be at the forefront of helping generate positive word-of-mouth about Connecticut. We’re going to reveal more information about the training program at our upcoming board meeting on June 15th, so I hope to see you there.
This program has the potential to revolutionize how our industry trains our staff and make Connecticut more attractive to visitors. It’s a huge step forward at a time when we need to do everything we can to bring more people to our region.
The Deacon Timothy Pratt House
Built in 1746 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Deacon Timothy Pratt House Bed & Breakfast allows guests to step back in time to colonial New England. Featuring five elegantly appointed guest rooms with private baths and fireplaces, guests can admire the quaint charm of historic details like wide-planked wooden floors and hand-hewn beams while enjoying modern luxuries like flat-screen TVs and whirlpool tubs.
The Deacon is famous for its afternoon tea served in the formal dining room on fine English china. Guests can partake of local teas from Simpson and Vail, homemade scones with clotted cream, artisan preserves, finger sandwiches, and decadent chocolates and desserts.
One of the jewels of Old Saybrook, The Deacon is also an ideal locale for weddings, anniversaries, and vow renewals. The iconic colonial house and manicured gardens provide an ideal backdrop for engagement and bridal photos, and The Deacon works closely with local florists, photographers, makeup artists, and livery services to help guests plan every detail of their big day.
CTC Board Member Paul Angelini is the owner of The Deacon. He also owns and renovated the nearby James Pharmacy.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: OZ GABRIEL
Oz Griebel launched his campaign for governor as an unaffiliated candidate, promising no partisanship, just solutions. A lifelong Republican, Griebel teamed up with Democrat Monte Frank to provide enthusiastic, collaborative leadership to ensure Connecticut remains a premier place for all people to live, play, work, and raise a family.
Griebel was formally the head of the MetroHarford Alliance—the Hartford region’s largest organization of business leaders—for 17 years. During that time he was heavily involved in advocating for state policies intended to create jobs by expanding the our economy. He sat on the corporate boards of MacDermid, Inc., Tallan, Inc., and World Business Capital.
Griebel also served on the boards of the Annual Fund of the United Way of the Central Naugatuck Valley, Bradley International Airport, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, Junior Achievement of Central Connecticut, the Mark Twain House, Northwest Catholic High School, Riverfront Recapture, the University of Hartford, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Waterbury Foundation, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Before joining the MetroHartford Alliance, Griebel was a teacher and coach at Worcester Academy and CEO of Bank Boston Connecticut. He has been named “Business Person of the Year” by both the Hartford Courant (1995) and the Hartford Business Journal (2001).Griebel graduated with a BA in English from Dartmouth College, where he played baseball and football. Griebel also earned a JD from Suffolk University. He lives in Hartford.
Griebel attended the March 2018 Connecticut Tourism Coalition Board Meeting, where he pledged his support for a sustainable source of funding for tourism.
We’re making headway
Last month our Coalition assembled in Hartford to speak with lawmakers about the importance of tourism to the health and future of Connecticut. We heard powerful testimony not just from our members, but students at the University of New Haven and Manchester Community College who are trying to build their careers and lives in our industry and in our state.
That’s why tourism is so important. We have a vibrant, young workforce who are passionate about Connecticut and want to make their lives here—and we could lose them if we cannot attract enough visitors to our state.
As the General Assembly wraps up its session, tourism funding is once again under attack. Our Coalition has called on our representatives and senators to at least maintain the $6.4 million reserved for statewide marketing in the last budget, but the legislature could still claw it back.
This is where you come in. Please, call and email your state representative and senator. Let them know how important tourism is to your ability to live in Connecticut, hire more people, and grow our economy. Remind them that investing in tourism has one of the best returns available. For every dollar they put into statewide marketing, they will get three in return.
We need to keep up this drumbeat before session ends, or we risk being left out in the cold.
I know it’s been a long road, but we’re making headway. Thank you for enduring support. Together I know we can bring about the changes and funding our industry needs not just to survive, but to thrive.
Member Spotlight: MYSTIC KNOTWORK
For more than 50 years, Mystic Knotwork and the Beaudoin family have provided unique, distinctive artisan crafts that speak to the nautical roots of shoreline Connecticut. Their work has been featured at Martha Stewart’s American Made Summit and other prestigious events.
Knotwork is in the blood for owner Matt Beaudoin. His grandfather, Alton, served as a Bosun’s mate in the merchant marines, trained at the Seaman’s Institute in New York City, and later served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II. Over the years, he learned the art of sailors’ knots from captains and officers, and established himself as an expert in the field. Some of his knotwork pieces were even donated to the Smithsonian.
Alton adapted traditional nautical knots into bracelets, belts, sample boards, guitar straps, bellropes, and more. Inspired by his grandfather’s artistry, Matt learned the craft at an early age.
Mystic Knotwork’s family legacy and authentic nautical arts have captured the public’s attention. As times and styles changes, Matt and his family continue to adapt. Their iconic bracelets, décor, and even wedding decorations perfectly capture the essence of life on the Connecticut shoreline and our maritime heritage.
Mark Boughton is currently serving his ninth consecutive term as Mayor of the City of Danbury. Boughton, a lifelong Danbury resident, graduated from Danbury High School in 1982 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in History from Central Connecticut State University. He returned to Danbury to earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from Western Connecticut State University.
Boughton served in the United States Army Reserve from 1983 to 1989, achieving the rank of Sergeant. In 1987, he decided to explore his passion for education and returned to Danbury High School to teach Social Studies. After experiencing first-hand the deficiencies of Connecticut’s education system, Boughton ran for State Representative of Connecticut’s 138th District in order to take his passion for education and public service to the Capitol. During his three years in office, Boughton achieved a perfect voting record in the General Assembly and served as a ranking member of the Environment and Education Committees.
Throughout his time in office, Mayor Boughton has fought to improve Connecticut’s education system, revitalize downtown Danbury, enhance infrastructure, improve the quality of life of his constituents, and expand their access to government. Boughton is guided by the principle of “People over Politics,” paving the way for his success in creating bi-partisan, common sense solutions for Danbury.
Under his leadership, Danbury has championed the lowest unemployment rate among all of Connecticut’s major cities through significant growth in economic development and a steady increase in job opportunities. Danbury has been named the second-best city to live in in the country and the best small city in Connecticut to start a business. Boughton continues to make Danbury the “best place to live, work, and be educated” and is prepared to make Danbury’s success Connecticut’s reality.
Boughton has also pledged his support for our industry to the leaders of our Coalition. He has signed our pledge to provide a sustainable source of funding for tourism, reopen Connecticut’s visitors centers, and establish an advisory board for statewide marketing efforts. We will continue to meet with Boughton and other candidates for statewide office from now through the election.
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