|By Tim Mekeel, Lancaster New Era,
Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Nov. 10, 2006 -After nearly five years of instilling stability and strength in the Pa. Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wendy R. Nagle is resigning as its president and chief executive officer.
Nagle, 47, of Lititz, is leaving effective Jan. 5 to become vice president of marketing and product development for Bird-in-Hand Corp., a leading hospitality firm here.
Bird-in-Hand Corp. runs the Bird-in-Hand Family Inn, Restaurant and Bakery on Old Philadelphia Pike, among other ventures. The bureau, meanwhile, has formed a transition committee to select its new leader.
The Visitors Bureau, with a $5 million annual budget and more than 600 members, markets the county as a destination for tourism -- a major contributor to the local economy.
Nagle today recalled the advice of tourism industry leader Al Duncan when she took the Visitors Bureau job in May 2002:
"He told me, 'Wendy, build an organization you can leave and will be healthy without you." That pretty much has been my mission since the day I walked in the door."
Visitors Bureau chairman Keith A. Orris, in a letter to members, called the departure "a bittersweet moment," saying he was sorry she'd be leaving but excited for her because she has "an excellent career opportunity."
Orris praised Nagle for her professionalism, vision, leadership, passion and commitment, noting her many contributions to the Visitors Bureau and the tourism industry.
Nagle joined the Visitors Bureau at a turbulent time. Its president, Brad W. Brubaker, had been fired after 21/2 years on the job when questions arose about how some bureau funds were spent.
In picking Nagle, the Visitors Bureau selected a person with a depth of experience in the tourism industry and industry organizations.
She had spent five years as executive director of the Reading & Berks County Visitors Bureau, then six years as director of sales and marketing for Sight & Sound Theatres in Strasburg.
During her tenure at Sight & Sound, the county's most popular tourist attraction, she became a Visitors Bureau director and chair of its Marketing Strategy Advisory Council.
Nagle said today that when she took the Visitors Bureau post, she had intended to stay about five years. "I always had in the back of my mind there'd be a next step for Wendy," she said.
Heeding Duncan, her initial priority was to stabilize an organization that had three presidents in 21/2 years -- herself, Brubaker and his predecessor, Allan Erselius.
She also focused effort on developing a sales culture within the organization, improving its public relations activities and upgrading its technology.
Nagle also made the Visitors Bureau a more active participant in the community's economic development initiatives, mindful of the role tourism plays in the economy.
"The outreach that's been made and partnerships that have been forged in that five-year period really have begun to define us somewhat differently," she said.
"It's not just a member organization doing some advertising. It's a group of people who are committed to the vitality and future of Lancaster County."
In keeping with that forward thinking, the Visitors Bureau also has established initiatives aimed to keep the county's tourist appeal enduring.
"We as a (bureau) have always been focused on the marketing message. ... But we really need to keep our eyes on the product, making sure it's healthy and strong, and that we're preparing it for the next generation of travelers," she said.
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Copyright (c) 2006, Lancaster New Era, Pa.
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