Door County Visitor Bureau’s CEO Jack Moneypenny

Door County Visitor Bureau Director Jack Moneypenny answered questions on a variety of topics in a recent interview with Peninsula Pulse News Editor Myles Dannhausen Jr. Here are a few highlights.

On defining success in 2008:

Moneypenny: What’s a blockbuster year when the economy stinks, there’s a war going on, and gas prices are going up? If the seasonal businesses can set themselves up for the winter and be comfortable, then that’s a success.

On whether vacation homeowners will visit Door County less due to the slumping economy:

Moneypenny: Are second-home owners our target market? No. Certainly they help the economy, but I’m more concerned about the travelers buying a bed. To be honest, second-homeowners are not even on my radar.

On what people should expect to see in this summer’s room tax numbers compared to 2007:

Moneypenny said they’ll be an increase because more communities are in the zone (Washington and Gardner were not members last summer), the Door County Tourism Zone Commission is getting better at collecting and enforcing the tax, and he believes bookings will be up.

Moneypenny: The true telling will be in 2009. By that time the marketing dollars will have taken hold and that can’t help but push those numbers up.

On what has most impressed him about Door County in his first months on the job:

Moneypenny: There is a certain pride here that shows through loud and clear. It’s a pride first in community, and their pride in Door County. I think the visitors can’t help but feel that. If you set out to engineer it you couldn’t.

Since I’ve moved here I’ve come to understand a whole new mentality on owner-operators and it’s pretty darn refreshing. Where I came from the owners were hundreds of miles away with hundreds of people working under them.

Here, the person who gets out of bed, unlocks the door and locks it back up at night is the person whose life is impacted by what goes on in that business. It is refreshing to see the dedication these people have to their businesses and know that everything you do for them is appreciated so much.

On what has most disappointed him:

Moneypenny: The challenge of the North and the South. There may be something to it, but we’re in this together.

When I got here what was the question I was asked the most?

MDJ: [I guessed, “Where are you going to live?” I was right. Then Moneypenny continued]

By stating a community I was stating my allegiance to that community.

Second, the struggle with Sturgeon Bay. [MDJ: Sturgeon Bay is not a member of the Door County Tourism Zone, and thus legally cannot be included in marketing paid for with room tax money collected by the zone]. It has eaten away so much time from so many people. Everyone wants to be in the right place but we’re not there. When we do marketing we always have to worry about in the zone or out of the zone. And we have 218 Loyal members in Sturgeon Bay, and we have to figure out the best way we’re going to represent those people.

On the Visitor Bureau’s role in marketing festivals:

Moneypenny: We have to be very careful what we do for individual events because once we do it for one, we have to do it for everyone. At what point do we become the marketing arm for the community or the marketing arm for individual events?

In response to a question about whether the bureau has marketed hard enough in the Fox Valley in recent years:

Moneypenny: I don’t think we were hitting any market hard enough. To try to market a county on $200,000 a year is probably one of the most difficult tasks you could ask anybody to do. It doesn’t surprise me tourism was down last year or the year before with that budget.

I think it would have been challenging to find someone to come in hear and take this job had the room tax not been in place.

On spending marketing dollars:

Moneypenny: I don’t ever want to spend money just to say we’re spending money on marketing. We’re going to choose carefully and make sure we do it well. Make sure we understand why and how we’re putting the dollars into a market.