Travel habits are changing fast, and the Door County Visitor Bureau is working to keep up. That may include a renovation or expansion of its Welcome Center in Sturgeon Bay.
“It’s a matter of us trying to look to the future and help visitors have a better experience in Door County,” said DCVB President and CEO Jack Moneypenny.
Though more and more travelers are planning through the web and mobile devices, nearly 60,000 visitors still pass through the Welcome Center every year seeking information and tips for their vacation. Moneypenny said that while there are still many visitors who pick up the paper brochures stocked at the center, visitors are looking for more from welcome centers.
“We know travelers are changing and will change even more in the next five or 10 years,” he said. “We won’t be as much of a paper distribution center 10 years from now.”
The organization is now evaluating firms to do a needs analysis. Moneypenny said that firm will look at staffing, technology and visitor needs, among other aspects, to determine whether the bureau needs to expand the welcome center facilities. Much of the center is devoted to the bureau’s staff offices.
Moneypenny said that any new incarnation of the center should remove barriers between the staff and the visitor.
“I’d love to see a more open center where the staff is out interacting with the visitor, not behind a desk,” he said. “A more intimate experience.”
Another need is more acute – restrooms. The center has two unisex restrooms for staff and visitors. On busy summer days, festival weekends, or when bus tours stop by the center, the restroom line snakes out the door.
“When your first stop in the county is to wait in line, it’s not a great experience,” Moneypenny said.
Moneypenny said the organization doesn’t want to be caught behind competitors when it comes to visitor services. Many other communities in the state are in the exploratory or design phases for new visitor centers. The DCVB’s exploration may determine that no changes are needed, but if they are, Moneypenny said he wouldn’t expect any changes in the immediate future.