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August 1, 2017

Convention Space News: Top New Hires at Convention Centers

There have been a number of new hires and promotions at convention centers this week. Take a look. 

John Washko Named New VP Convention Sales for Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun has announced the hiring of John Washko as vice president of exhibitions and conventions sales. 

john washkoWashko has held previous executive level roles with Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas and The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Washko will be heavily involved with the sales and direction of the Mohegan Sun Expo Center, currently being built near the Earth Tower at Mohegan Sun.

In a written release, Ray Pineualt, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun, said that Washko brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership to Mohegan Sun’s meetings and conventions team. 

Washko has also held important roles in sales, marketing, group sales and hospitality in his 20+ year career in the resort industry. In addition to his previous roles with Atlantis and The Broadmoor, Washko was vice president of sales and marketing for Elite Meetings International.

In his new role as vice president of exhibitions and conventions sales, Washko will oversee the meetings and conventions division at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, which will include in large part, heading the sales and direction for the new 132,000 square-foot Mohegan Sun Expo Center, which is currently slated for a summer 2018 opening.

Washko, a James Madison University graduate, has been recognized as one of the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing in 2015 by HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) and in 2010 was awarded “Marketer of the Year” from HSMAI as well. Washko is an Executive Committee Member of HSMAI’s America’s Board. He also sits on the Advisory Board for Elite Meetings International.

Visit mohegansun.com

hawaii convention center
Photo by dkclack/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Four New Hires, Promotions at Hawaii Convention Center

AEG Facilities, the management company of the Hawaii Convention Center (HCC), has  announced the following promotions and new additions to its team:

Mari Tait has been promoted to director of operations, where she will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the HCC’s operations, engineering/maintenance, housekeeping, landscaping, security/guest services and information technology departments. She previously served as the center’s operations manager and originally joined the team as executive housekeeper in 2001. A graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Travel Industry Management, Tait’s career also includes time with the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Kahala Hilton Hotel, Queen Kapiolani Hotel and Hawaiian Regent Hotel.

Natalie Shiinoki has been promoted to marketing manager responsible for overall management of the Center’s branding, advertising, public relations, digital and social media efforts. She previously served as HCC’s sales and marketing coordinator and originally joined the Center as international sales coordinator in 2011. Shiinoki graduated from Ateneo De Manila University with a bachelor’s of science degree in management. In addition to English, she is also fluent in Filipino (Tagalog) and Chinese (Fookien and Mandarin).

Michellee Phelps joins HCC as manager of communications and special events. She brings to the team a wealth of hospitality experience serving as global brand services manager for Outrigger Enterprises Group, head of project management for MVNP and entertainment events specialist with the Walt Disney Company. She will take on all responsibilities pertaining to communications and special events at HCC. Phelps holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in communications/advertising with a minor in business from California State University Fullerton.

Brian Takenaka joins HCC as IT manager and will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Center’s information technology infrastructure, including the oversight of system projects and hardware. He previously worked at Outrigger Enterprises Group for 29 years, most recently serving as the company’s systems operations director where he was responsible for corporate IT operations supporting approximately 50 hotels across Hawaii, Asia Pacific and Guam.

los angeles convention center

Los Angeles Convention Center Posts Record Year

The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), managed by AEG Facilities, has reported the most successful year in its 46-year history for fiscal year 2016 – 2017. 

The LACC closed the year with the largest financial and operational surplus, highest occupancy rate and hosted the most citywide conventions and special events in the LACC’s 46-year history. The LACC reported an operating surplus of over $10.2 million; a 5 percent jump from the year prior. The impressive FY 2016-2017 results are not only in financial performance but also increases in total attendance and citywide convention bookings, building improvement projects, sustainability metrics, positive client survey results and community involvement and corporate responsibility projects, the LACC said.


Under the management of AEG Facilities, the LACC concluded the fiscal year (June 30, 2017) with an operating surplus of over $10.2 million before reimbursing the city of Los Angeles $3.1 million for the Convention and Tourism Development Department expenses, Staples Bond payment and an allocation for other city services. Since taking over management in December 2013, AEG Facilities has reported improved financial results every year totaling an operating profit of over $26.8 million. In this fiscal year, the LACC also added $1 million to the reserve account, accumulating $7.1 million in reserves at the conclusion of FY 2016-2017.

A&I and CIP

Since the transition, the LACC has reinvested surplus dollars it has generated, more than $11.8 million, on various building improvement projects. In FY 2016-2017, the AEG Facilities LACC team assisted the city in executing a total of $5.2 million in Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) and funded a total of $6 million in Alteration and Improvements (A&I) projects; $2 million more than the year prior. These projects provide building improvements, increase operational efficiencies, and directly improve the client and attendee experience, the LACC said.

Notable CIP and A&I projects include:

  • Building efficiency projects - implementation of the new Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) – a digital work order system to streamline maintenance of the LACC
  • Beautification projects -  upgraded landscaping and florals in Concourse Walkway, South Lobby planters, and Kentia Palm Court as well as carpet replacements throughout the facility
  • Sustainable projects -  LED lighting retrofits, Energy Star Appliances for the LACC kitchen area, installation of Water Bottle filling stations, and the addition of the Metro Bike Station at Gilbert Lindsey Plaza
  • Safety and security enhancements -  the addition of 36 emergency call boxes in all parking areas and 93 security cameras

Increased Events and Citywides Conventions, Overall Attendance, and Improved Client Survey Results

The LACC successfully closed the year at an occupancy rate of 74 percent, surpassing prior year’s 72 percent – industry standard indicates a convention center is considered fully occupied at 70 percent, the LACC said.

Through the partnership with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (LATCB) and the Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism Development (CTD), the LACC has increased citywide bookings by 7 percent, which included large medical conventions such as the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons; and other international conferences such as the USGBC Greenbuild and Optical Society of America. Additionally, the LACC received 96 percent favorable post event survey results from clients compared to 92 percent favorable last fiscal year.

“Events held this year at the LACC has economically contributed $732 million to the city of Los Angeles and an estimated 300,000 booked hotel room nights,” said Doane Liu, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development, in a written release.

Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility  

The LACC has also reached a record-breaking 75 percent waste diversion rate this fiscal year, surpassing the prior year by 3 percent. Since the transition to AEG Facilities management, the construction and demolition (C&D) waste diversion program has diverted more than 4.5 million pounds of C&D waste from the landfill and has recycled 4,000 tons of compost, which represents a significant proportion of the overall waste from the LACC.

The LACC also has internal programs such as the first LACC Service Day at the Downtown Women’s Shelter, Earth Day E-Waste Fair, and participates in other AEG sponsored programs such as the Read-to-a- Child program at 10th Street Elementary School in Downtown Los Angeles.

Visit lacclink.com

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