Flavor is a matter of taste, to state the obvious. Some like it hot, others not so much.
There are successful recipes in every aspect of life, including those for tourist and resort towns. And when it comes to business, Jennifer Wesselhoff is the newest spice to be added to Park City’s recipe. She was named president and CEO of the Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau October 2020.
Before arriving in Park City, Jennifer had spent over a decade at the helm of Sedona, Arizona’s chamber of commerce, helping transform Sedona’s Red Rock Country into a world-class destination. “We had so much success in Sedona in the development of a sustainable tourism plan; we were getting a lot of attention worldwide. But did you ever feel like you had done everything you could do in a certain place? I felt like that in Sedona. I was anxious to do something different somewhere else. So, I was sort of feeling like, well, what’s next?” she confesses.
The veteran executive knows her success in Sedona will be a tough act to follow. “I wasn’t really looking to leave Sedona. When you look around, there aren’t a lot of places to go that are as good or better than where I was. Park City was really it, probably the only other place that I would consider.” So, when outgoing CEO Bill Malone announced his retirement and encouraged her to apply, she threw her hat in the ring.
Jennifer has never shied away from adventure and new challenges. After graduating from college with degrees in communications and French, the Ohio native traveled abroad, working in Switzerland and Japan. She and her husband, Rick, moved to Sedona without jobs simply because they thought the area was beautiful and ripe with opportunity. Though they didn’t know a single person in Sedona, they found themselves among kindred spirits.
“We wanted to live in a place where people would save up all their money to travel, where people are courageous or naive enough to leave everything behind and hit the road,” she says.
So, what new flavor does Jennifer bring to Park City’s already-proven recipe for success? When it comes to her own cooking (she loves to cook) she admits a penchant for the basics. “I love to get the essence of the food. I like simple salt and pepper to bring out the flavor. Of course, I love different cuisines, but when I prepare things, my preference is always to keep it clean and simple.” It’s a philosophy Jennifer brings to her work at the chamber. “Just as with food, I want the place, and the people to feature themselves, to have their own flavors come out.”
She believes our future lies in sustainable tourism through what she calls “destination stewardship and management.” No radical changes, no wild new spices, but rather finding a simple, balanced approach that meets the needs and expectations of most Parkites.
Of course, simple doesn’t always mean easy. “Finding balance, that’s the biggest challenge. In Park City, there is a level of deep and respectful conversation that doesn’t happen in a lot of communities. I’ve really enjoyed that. What I bring to the table is a promise for bold new ideas and solutions, leadership on the tough issues, and a relentless focus on the future. I promise to listen carefully to everyone in the belief that we can create strategies that bring people together,” she says.
So that’s the salt and pepper that Jennifer brings to our community. She’s not one to over-spice the recipe or overpower the food — or, in this analogy, the people. “Because,” she concludes, “Park City is already such a great, great place to live.”