After 25 years of dedicated service to the Hospitality division of Bristol Associates, Sr. Vice President Kelly Nelson has announced his retirement effective May 1, 2020. Vice President Catia Pecoraro will serve as the new division leader upon Kelly’s retirement.

In April 1995, Kelly joined Bristol as an executive recruiter in the Hotels and Resorts industry. Over the years, he became a key contributor in expanding the division into Travel, Tourism, Theme Parks, Attractions, Facilities, and Concession Services industries.

“It has been a great pleasure for me to work with leading companies in our industry as they build their corporate culture and enhance their executive management teams,” says Kelly, expressing sentiment on his retirement. “I also have had the opportunity to work with highly talented candidates in support of their career ambitions. Over the course of time, it has been gratifying for me to watch so many of our candidates’ progress within their organizations.”

Kelly continues, “I am also pleased to announce that Catia Pecoraro will assume the leadership role for Bristol’s Hospitality and Travel/Attractions practice. Catia is an adept hospitality industry recruiter with over ten years of experience with executive level search. She joined our organization in January, and we have worked together to ensure a smooth transition. I can assure you that you will be in good hands with Catia.”

Catia shares her thoughts as Kelly passes the torch over to her, “It’s been an honor to work with you, Kelly. Even though you’re retiring, your legacy of greatness will continue on with us here at Bristol. The profound footprint you’ve established in executive search is undeniable, you’ve truly made a remarkable impact over the past 25 years. I am honored to lead the way with Bristol’s hospitality division – achieving continued success and extraordinary results. Thank you for your unwavering service to the industry and to our team here at Bristol. Enjoy every moment of your retirement, to say it is deserved is an understatement. Well done, Kelly!”

We also reached out to Kelly’s long-time Bristol colleagues to give a proper send-off.

“Kelton Nelson, where do I begin? He personifies work ethic and exceptional results. Kelly has been a pillar of our firm for 25 years, bringing to our office wit, intellect and an unrivaled industry prowess day in and day out. Out of all the support I have been fortunate enough to receive from family and friends over the years, Kelly made an equally everlasting impact on my career here at Bristol Associates. If it wasn’t for Kelly I wouldn’t be where I am today. He is a true leader, mentor, friend and always the consummate professional.

Cheers to you Kelly! There will never be another Executive Recruiter like you.”

– Ben Farber, President

“As we sit looking out at the Patagonia landscape on the last day of our excursion, we realized that part of the reason we are here is because of Kelly who always encouraged us to travel to exotic places. So, it is fitting that we write our appreciation in this remarkable landscape.

As Kelly has mentioned, he started with Bristol Associates in 1995 after a successful career in the travel and casino industry. We were very lucky that he decided to give Executive Recruiting a chance, as his contributions to Bristol have been enormous.

Kelly was very knowledgeable about the hospitality and tour & travel industries. He always thought in the long term about his relationships with clients and candidates and, as a result, always created positive results benefiting everyone.

We wish him all the best in his retirement and hope that he keeps on traveling so we can continue to follow his inspired adventures.”

– Jim Bright & Lucy Farber, Former owners of Bristol Associates (retired 2014)

“Congratulations to Kelly Nelson on a fabulous career and well-earned retirement. Even though my tenure at Bristol preceded his by several years, I was the fortunate beneficiary of his superb business acumen, exceptional marketing ability, and genuine team-player approach. Aside from all that, he’s a great guy and my good friend.

Kelly—Enjoy!!! You deserve it.”

– Peter Stern, Former Sr. Vice President for Food Manufacturing Division (retired 2017)

Congratulations on your retirement, Kelly! We’ll miss you!

candidate driven market

You may have heard the term “candidate-driven market” as it relates to today’s job market and strong economy. Because candidates are in higher demand than usual, recruiters and employers have to go the extra mile to attract the best talent. Candidates are currently in the driver’s seat and have choices when it comes to employment, whereas in 2010 they may have taken a less desirable opportunity because any job was better than no job. It’s not just about what a candidate can offer a company; it’s about what a company can offer a candidate.

Active vs. Passive Candidates

When it comes to filling an open position, there are two types of candidates: active and passive. Active candidates are professionals who are currently looking for a new job because of a variety of reasons: they are seeking career growth, wanting to relocate, unhappy in their current role or with their current company, or unemployed. In contrast, passive candidates are employed professionals who are not actively searching for new work, but may be open to a new position if the right opportunity presents itself. Often, candidates most appealing to employers are those that are currently working because their value is recognized by the mere fact that they are already employed by another organization.

Passive candidates may be attractive due to the fact that they are already employed, but can you convince them to leave their current situation? Active candidates already want or need a new job, thus garnering interest requires much less persuasion. Passive candidates do not have the same sense of urgency, even if they recognize that there is always room for improvement in their career.

Employer Branding

There are several ways to make a company appealing to a candidate. Having a strong employer brand is critical. A company may already be on a candidate’s radar because of their stellar online presence or reputation in their industry, and familiarity will be beneficial in the courting process. On the contrary, lack of awareness or negative perceptions will certainly discourage talent from even engaging the conversation.

Casting a Reel

Most initial correspondence with candidates is presented via email or LinkedIn. The way a message is crafted and what it includes is important in catching a candidate’s attention. With more candidates being approached on social media by recruiters, standing out with a tailored message is key. The time invested into creating personal messages catches attention by mentioning specific skills and a career path that is a match with the given opportunity. If they receive a generic message with no relevant connections to them or their expertise, candidates will be much less likely to respond. Discussing any relevant upward trajectory – such as increased responsibility, compensation, or proximity to their home, is also an attention-getter.

Reeling Them In

Once a candidate responds to the message and would like to learn more about the opportunity is the chance to build genuine excitement and interest. Yes, selling the specs and company perks is important, but a thoughtful method and approach is equally important. Sincere communication is essential to establishing trust and rapport. If candidates do not feel that their best interest is at heart, then they will be less likely to accept the risk of pursuing a new opportunity.

Taking an interest in all aspects of the candidate including their career goals, hobbies, personal life, and if they will be a good fit with the new company and new location, show them that the move is being fully thought through. Talking to a candidate as a caring and thoughtful human being rather than a robot looking to fill a position continues the personalization from the initial correspondence.

Career growth, salary, company culture, development programs, location, and employee recognition are some of the many factors candidates use to consider a new job. Modify the conversation according to the candidate’s motivations and aspirations. If a candidate is looking for a company culture that values communication and transparency, focus on that more so than the benefits package.

Lastly, reassure confidentiality to alleviate any concern of jeopardizing their current employment. Passive candidates are rarely entertaining other offers. Always present the opportunity at hand with enthusiasm and the right person will match the excitement at the thought of joining a winning team.

At the end of the day, a passive candidate will only consider a new job opportunity if it is what’s best for them and any family they need to consider. It is the role of the recruiter or hiring manager to not only share the whole story, but to also serve as a helpful resource offering guidance during interviews, salary negotiation, and offer acceptance.


This article has been updated from an original Bristol Associates post from 2016.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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Bristol Associates is very pleased to announce Catia Pecoraro as the newest addition to the firm’s experienced executive search team.

Catia will be the Vice President of our Hospitality division, joining Sr. Vice President Kelly Nelson in managing searches for hotels and resorts; travel, tourism, and attractions; and facilities and concessions.

“We are really looking forward to Catia utilizing her strong industry background to further service our clients and candidates,” says Kelly Nelson.

Catia brings over 12 years of experience in executive recruitment with an expertise in the hospitality industry. She has worked with some of the most prestigious brands that are recognized around the world. Known for specializing in building world-class teams, Catia inspires her network to do what they love and love what they do.

We asked Catia a series of questions to break the ice.

Q: What led you to your career as a recruiter?

“I grew up around the industry, I was immersed from a very young age as my father has an executive search firm. I remember going to his office after school and wanting to listen to his conversations so I could spend time with him and also so I could learn from him. Recruiting to me isn’t just a career, it’s a lifestyle, and I often say it feels like it’s a part of my DNA. In a very strong way it feels like executive recruitment chose me and the feeling was mutual.”

Q: What are you passionate about?

“Being alive! How lucky are we to have this experience we call life? Having this opportunity to be the artist of my life is what ignites my passion and feeds my energy to continue doing what brings me joy every single day.”

Q: Describe yourself in three words.

“Visionary. Epistemophilic. Worldly.”

Q: How do you describe what you do for a living to family and friends?

“I solve people puzzles. I connect individuals with amazing career opportunities and companies with leaders who will thrive together. I help professionals clarify their visions for their career and life, and I find and build solid and sustainable teams for my clients today and the future.”

Q: What motivates you at work?

“My inner drive and compass and my personal ‘Why’ is what motivates me foremost, and what’s just as significant is my team and our dynamic, our synergy as a whole.”

Q: How do you recharge after a busy day?

“I’ve learned to keep it simple. It’s really about asking myself what I need in that moment and then doing it. Sometimes it’s unplugging completely, spending time with a loved one, cuddling with my pup, meditating with binaural beats, going outside to connect with nature…it’s really just listening to what I need and not questioning it, just doing it.”

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

“Travel! It’s a very big part of my life because I love experiencing new cultures, cuisines, landscapes, languages and having the opportunity to learn new perspectives while meeting different people. Being in nature too! I feel so fortunate to live in such a gorgeous state with amazing weather year-round. Walking or bike riding with my dog, catching a sunset at the beach, making art while enjoying the sun, and spending time with my loved ones.”

Q: Who inspires you?

“Those who don’t allow their circumstances to define them. I’m inspired daily by people whose name I don’t even know because I look for those moments where magic happens. We all have the capacity to inspire others, it’s really a matter of what we choose to do with it every day.”

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I was so curious as a kid, I still am, though because of that I wanted to know what all of the adults I knew did for a living and then I would dive into the rabbit hole of learning all I could about it. I changed my mind a lot as a kid because I was constantly learning about a new career and imagining what it would be like if I did that when I grew up. Deep down I always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and I think being surrounded by the industry I naturally became more curious.”

Q: Over the course of your life, how many cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?

“I’ve traveled a lot over the course of my life and lived in many countries for months at a time, though only 4 cities for a long period of time. My favorite thus far is Venice Beach, CA.”

Q: Where’s your favorite place in the world?

“Just one? Well, how about a region…the Mediterranean, and to be more specific, Sicily and a small island in Greece called Alonnisos. It’s where I feel most home away from home. Being Sicilian might have something to do with it…but regardless, it’s my favorite region in the world.”

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you?

“I would go with a machete, a photo of the ones I love, and an encyclopedia and/or book that specifically tells me what plants/vegetation life is edible, what plants can be used as medicine and which ones are considered poisonous.”

Q: What kind of music do you like?

“What I listen to depends on what I’m doing or trying to achieve because I utilize it to my advantage whether it’s to stay focused, to feel something, to be creative, whatever it may be, music ignites me. I love so many genres and most recently I find myself listening to music from the 80s yet also listening to a lot of  tribal and native genres with strong tones and beats like El Buho. Variety in my music choices is key.”

Q: Do you have any book recommendations?

“The Third Door, Principles, The Mastery of Self, The Artist’s Way”

Q: If you could choose one hobby that now seems out of your reach either financially or time-wise, what hobby would you take up and why?

“I would love to learn how to sing. I love how music can make one feel so much from even just the tone of the artist. I did learn how to play instruments as a young child, though never learned how to use my vocal cords to make music. Maybe I’ll find a vocal coach and let you know how it’s going in a few months time.”

Q: What’s the one piece of advice you would give others about life? 

“Everything (in life) is right on time. Always. Find out what you’re good at and focus on ways to become great at it, maximize your strengths and you will fast root your life. No one becomes extraordinary in life being good at everything.  Luck and overnight success don’t just happen, it takes clear focus and dedication to your vision and when you work towards it, when you can see the forest through the trees that’s when opportunity presents itself, that’s when synchronicities happen and life evolves. It takes consistency and honoring the journey in knowing that everything, absolutely everything in life is right on time. We don’t get to click our heels and end up in Kansas like Dorothy did from The Wizard of Oz, but when we look back and take in our own journey we can connect the dots of why some things took longer, why some things happened more easily, why some things ended in order for us to find anew…it will all make sense in do time. Just remember, everything in life is right on time.”

We’re happy to have you in our Bristol family, Catia! Please give her a warm welcome by emailing her at, dialing 310-670-0525 ext. 1105, or messaging via LinkedIn.

We are excited to announce the results of our 19th Annual Casino Gaming Executive Satisfaction Survey in conjunction with Spectrum Gaming Group. We received over 1,800 responses in 2019, our highest response count to date. Thank you to all who participated and provided feedback. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Penn National Gaming regains the top employer of choice 
  • California-based executives gave the greatest rating to their own casino market
  • Out of the 76% of professionals who keep tabs on work every day while on vacation, 92% are also actually working, albeit voluntarily

Click here to view the 2019 Casino Gaming Executive Satisfaction Survey Results 

We encourage you to share the results with your colleagues. Keep an eye out for our 20th survey in 2020!

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According to the New York Times article, “How to Be More Mindful at Work,” mindfulness is “paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental way.” Learning and practicing mindfulness can be an effective way to help you get through the busy holiday season, manage stress, and even improve your next job search.

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