News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Bob Gary Jr., Chattanooga Times/Free Press, Tenn.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 6, 2003 - Tennessee isn't one of the 26 states Steve Genovesi claims to have covered on a bicycle, but he'll probably add the state to that list sooner than later.
Mr. Genovesi is leaving the Marriott hotel chain after 18 years to join the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau's new vice president for sales is scheduled to start work Dec. 1.
"The people I know who've been to Chattanooga say, 'What a great move,'" said Mr. Genovesi, the general manager of Marriott's Philadelphia Central City Residence Inn since 2001.
The foundation for Mr. Genovesi's move was laid in June. That was when international consulting firm KPMG finished an organizational study of the CVB and the Carter Street Corp, which manages the Chattanooga Convention Center.
One of the study's main recommendations was that the bureau should hire a staff member specifically to bring conventions to the city. Bob Doak, the CVB's president, said "the right candidate never surfaced" in the bureau's first search.
He said the bureau then hired an executive search firm. The firm contacted Mr. Genovesi, who was running a hotel but looking to return to sales, where he'd spent most of his career.
"I was pretty loyal to Marriott," Mr. Genovesi said. "I probably wouldn't have gone to another hotel chain, but I was also very intrigued by the idea of selling a city.
"I was looking to move to a city that was growing, a city where I could feel good about raising a family. Chattanooga had all the elements. I came down there and was sold on the city's momentum," he said.
Mr. Doak said at the bureau's recent annual meeting that its goal for the next 12 months is to increase room-nights from 100,000 to 150,000. He said his new sales vice president comes well-equipped to meet that standard.
"He's been a convention sales guy virtually his entire career, including in Atlanta, which gives him a feel for this region," Mr. Doak said. "And he's coming from the for-profit world -- he understands meeting and exceeding goals."
Mr. Genovesi said he didn't set his career goal until a counselor at the University of Georgia hit him between the eyes with one question.
"I was majoring in management," Mr. Genovesi said. "He asked, 'What is it you want to manage?'
"I'd been working in food service at the student dining hall. That was when I realized I wanted to go into the hotel/restaurant sector.
"It was a pivotal point," he said.
The Moorestown, N.J., native soon transferred to Georgia State in Atlanta, where he finished his degree in hotel/restaurant/travel management before signing on with Marriott.
Mr. Genovesi said his short-term strategy won't be complicated.
"I want to ask a lot of questions of the sales team," he said. "I want to get a good idea of the competition and how we fare against that competition.
"I'm all about sales calls. With targeted accounts, you know they've been in similar cities. You know their needs. You target and go after them," he said.
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(c) 2003, Chattanooga Times/Free Press, Tenn. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MAR,