The Door County Visitor Bureau has chosen a new leader.
Jack Moneypenny, formerly Vice President of Sales for VISIT Milwaukee, the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, will take over for interim director Jerry Zaug Oct. 16. Zaug, President-Elect of the Bureau’s Executive Committee, has occupied the position since the June 21 resignation of Karen Raymore. Raymore had served as the organization’s director for 10 years.
Though Milwaukee is a much different tourist destination than Door County, Moneypenny said his experience and skills honed there will travel well up the Lake Michigan shoreline.
“With VISIT Milwaukee my job has been to come up with unique promotional ideas,” he said. “It’s all about getting people’s attention and getting people to look at you, no matter the type of destination.”
He also said he places utmost importance on the quality of the people in selling a destination.
“It’s the people that make the destination,” said Moneypenny, who has seen the county several times as a tourist. “In my visits to Door County, the people there have won my heart, and that’s what it’s all about. If people are going to leave their money somewhere, they want to feel good about who they’re leaving it with.”
Moneypenny grew up in Conneaut, Ohio, a city of about 15,000 outside Cleveland, and got his degree from Ohio University in 1977. He has spent the last 28 years in the tourism industry in Milwaukee, starting by waiting tables and working his way through the ranks in various positions up to director of sales at a hotel.
Prior to joining VISIT Milwaukee in 1997, Moneypenny was the Director of Sales and Catering for the Holiday Inn City Center in Milwaukee for 7 1/2 years, and prior to that he was with the Racine Sheraton for 7 1/2 years as restaurant and banquet manager.
“I’ve carried a lot of trays on my shoulders,” Moneypenny said. “I still think those were some of the best times of my life. I really feel like everything I’ve done in my life has prepared me for this job right now.”
The Visitor Bureau used the services of SearchWide, a recruiting firm specializing in travel industry executive recruitment, to find prospective candidates for the position. Moneypenny was selected from a pool of 17 applicants SearchWide brought to them after whittling down a list of 230. Six of the prospects were brought in for interviews, after which DCVB board president John Lowry said Moneypenny was chosen unanimously.
In a press release Lowry called the new director “a dynamic, extremely focused individual who we feel will bring excitement, leadership and growth to our tourism economy.”
The 50 year-old Moneypenny said he was drawn to the position for several reasons.
“My goal and ambition was always to be a president of a bureau and run my own shop,” he said. “When this came up I was immediately interested because, 1) it’s a great destination, and such a different destination. 2) I’ll be running my own shop. And 3) I’ll be able to make a difference, to drive numbers and drive tourism. With everything that has happened in the last year, it’s an exciting time up there.”
Moneypenny was prepared to give colleagues a geography lesson in explaining where his new position was taking him, but was surprised with the level of recognition Door County has nationwide.
“Since this all began I’ve heard from probably 150 people from all over the country wishing me well,” he said. “Probably more than 90 percent have either been to, plan to visit, have a friend who has a home, or a brother who vacations in – Door County. It’s amazing how many people coast to coast are familiar with the destination.”
Does that recognition indicate that Door County is shooting too low as a regional destination? Should the bureau be thinking nationally when marketing the peninsula? Moneypenny was cautious.
“I certainly think there’s some opportunity,” he said. “But I don’t know quite yet how great. We need to talk about Chicago, Minneapolis, and similar regional markets first, then expand.”
Moneypenny, who doesn’t lack for enthusiasm, said Visitor Bureau members can expect a driven, motivated man at the helm of the tourism ship.
“They can expect dedication and passion for selling and helping grow tourism in Door County,” he said. “I will give 110 percent of all I have to offer to this job.”