Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Jennifer Wesselhoff of Park City Chamber of Commerce | Convention & Visitors Bureau Is Helping To Change Our World
Become a morning person. Call it a morning ritual, habit, custom, or routine — if used properly, the right actions practiced with consistency can have a major impact on your life.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Wesselhoff.
Jennifer Wesselhoff is the President and CEO of the Park City Chamber of Commerce | Convention & Visitors Bureau. Under her leadership, The Park City Chamber is responsible for the marketing and management of Utah’s preeminent luxury tourism destination, driving revenues in excess of $1 billion annually. Prior to arriving in Park City, Jennifer was CEO & President of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, which she joined in 2007, where she led Sedona, Arizona to national recognition as a vacation destination.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Shortly after moving to Sedona, AZ, I attended a Chamber of Commerce mixer in an effort to make new friends. A Chamber Ambassador introduced me to every person he knew and suggested I volunteer for the Chamber’s upcoming Home & Business Show. I managed the marketing and public relations for the Show and it was a huge success. A few months later, the Chamber created a Communications Manager position and I was fortunate to have gotten it, as it was my entryway into the tourism world. Through the years, I worked my way up through the organization and eventually became the CEO. This is also why I love advocating for hospitality mentorships and school programs. It’s so important for kids to know about the work we do and encourage involvement in such an incredible industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Many years ago, when I was the CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, I was contacted by representatives from Al Ula in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an emerging destination. Al Ula is similar to Sedona in several ways, and therefore, had hoped to learn from our experiences and model our tourism efforts. This opened up many opportunities for cross cultural learning and spurred my consulting company. They traveled to Sedona several times and I traveled to KSA several times, conducting trainings, seminars and FAMs. This amazing career opportunity led me to make new friends, ride a camel, and meet many people, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I still consult with them today and it’s been thrilling to be part of building tourism from the ground up and to be part of an emerging vision for a community.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh, boy. My most embarrassing mistake came from lack of proofreading! When I was the Director of Public Relations for the Sedona Chamber & Tourism Bureau, I didn’t carefully proof my title in the Annual Report. Unfortunately, I was listed as the “Director of Pubic Relations!” Lesson learned: Always proofread!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Park City/Summit County did not have a sustainable tourism plan in place prior to 2020 and our organization has convened a wide cross-section of the community to create the state’s first-ever sustainable tourism plan. Getting full participation from leaders with the county, the city, the business and tourism community and local residents has been exceptionally rewarding and has bolstered our confidence, knowing this plan has been vetted by groups who will keep it moving forward over the coming decades. It is a local compact that will have far-reaching social impact on our community, and I believe it has raised the profile of the Chamber of Commerce and its ability to be a leader and community convener for the long term.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Longtime area leader, Sally Elliott, has been passionate about preserving our mining-industry’s origins, which preceded the town’s founding in the late 1800’s. One of the four pillars of our sustainable tourism plan is raising the visibility of our distinctive history and culture — and this has given new life to Sally’s endeavors. She is thrilled to see a wide swath of the local community coming to the forefront in the effort to preserve elements of our silver mining past for the edification of future generations.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
We have presented our sustainable tourism plan to both the Summit County and Park City councils and both governmental organizations have set aside a day to recognize and endorse the principles of the sustainable tourism plan. We hope the community takes this plan into consideration as it sets policies for three critical areas — transportation planning, workforce housing and environmental decisions so that they are considered with the same weight as short-term financial benefits to the community. Having their support in these three areas give ‘teeth’ to the Sustainable Tourism Plan. It will mean the community is ‘rowing all oars in the same direction’ and should give us the long term sustainability we are looking for.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is serving others and the community to enhance their wellbeing and to make each situation an opportunity to learn and thrive. It’s about continual learning, listening, giving, uplifting and serving to make each interaction positive and impactful.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Have more fun because life is too short.
- Don’t worry about what other people think of you.
- If it’s important to you, you’ll make time.
- Become a morning person. Call it a morning ritual, habit, custom, or routine — if used properly, the right actions practiced with consistency can have a major impact on your life.
- Travel as much as you can, Anthony Bourdain put it best, “Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”
- Always make time for your old friendships
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A mandatory gap year abroad for all, preferably in a country that doesn’t speak your native language because I’m a true believer that travel changes people.It opens eyes, doors and hearts. Travel makes you more social, better at conversation, more confident, more adaptable, more adventurous, more easygoing, less materialistic, and more open to other people, ideas and cultures — plus it’s fun! As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” We believe in this so much that my husband and I started the “Wesselhoff Travel Fund” or the WTF, for all our nieces and nephews. Instead of giving gifts for birthdays and special occasions, every year, we put $100 aside in the fund. They can access the fund from ages 18–26, they must go somewhere where English isn’t the primary language, and they aren’t allowed to go with a parent. We pay for their flights and provide some spending money. Travel is the best gift of all. Mandatory gap year for all!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” — Mother Teresa. I believe that we can change the world one tiny action at a time. We can show others compassion, care and grace; we can teach and support, and help others (and ourselves) be the best versions of themselves. So many kindnesses have been done to me and for me over the years, and I have experienced the power of supportive, servant leadership.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Brene Brown. Her work over the years has inspired me at so many levels. Plus, she seems super fun to be around.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I publish a blog on www.ParkCityChamber.com every other week. You can also follow the Park City Chamber on social @visitparkcity on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Jennifer Wesselhoff of Park City Chamber of Commerce | Convention… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.