Former state tourism secretary now promoting Lake Geneva area

VISIT Lake Geneva President Stephanie Klett, left, and VISIT Lake Geneva staff member Sandy Biging  look up information on Monday at the tourism organization's visitor center in downtown Lake Geneva. Klett was state secretary of tourism for eight years during the Walker administration.

LAKE GENEVA — Stephanie Klett is hitting the ground running as the new president of VISIT Lake Geneva.

Running and introducing herself and building relationships as the region’s new top tourism promoter.

“It’s been incredible,” Klett said. “It’s been fast-paced, going from location to location.”

Klett started her new job April 8 and spent her first week attending VISIT Lake Geneva board meetings, meeting with staff, interacting with other tourism officials, and visiting a Geneva Town Board meeting.

VISIT Lake Geneva staffer Sandy Biging said she is impressed with Klett.

“She’s open and friendly and always smiling,” Biging said. “She’s going to make this place fun.”

Klett, a former state tourism secretary, was hired to fill the top staff position at VISIT Lake Geneva after the resignation of Ed Svitak, who stepped down in December.

Klett had served eight years in the administration of Gov. Scott Walker until Walker was defeated for re-election last November.

In her first week on the job in Lake Geneva, Klett met with Kathleen Seeberg, executive director of the Walworth County Visitors Bureau, to discuss how the two groups could work together.

“I want to have a great partnership,” Klett said.

Seeberg said she enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with Klett to discuss possible ideas for attracting more visitors to Walworth County.

Seeberg said she has known Klett for years, before either of them got involved in their current positions. She looks forward to working as a team to promote the region.

“It was nice to talk with her in a peer-to-peer manner,” Seeberg said. “We think she will do great things for this area.”

A year-round destination

Klett said her goal as VISIT Lake Geneva’s new president is to develop a strategic plan for the organization and to help promote Walworth County as a tourist destination.

She said Walworth County increasingly is becoming a year-round destination, even competing with the East Coast as a place to see the changing fall colors.

Klett said she also wants to educate local communities and organizations about the importance of tourism. Having a strong tourism industry encourages people to move to an area, she said.

“Tourism dollars translate to fire and police protection,” she said. “Millennials want to live somewhere where there’s a lot of activity and things to do.”

Klett said she has been impressed by the VISIT Lake Geneva board and its membership representing local industry.

“The board reads like a who’s who,” she said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

VISIT Lake Geneva was established in 2016 in a merger between the local convention bureau and chamber of commerce. The group is run by a 16-member board that includes representatives for the local business community.

During her first week on the job, Klett huddled with her new staff to discuss plans for the organization.

“I’m honored to be in this position,” she said. “The team that I have wants to do good. This is the type of team that wants to win and do the best they can for the Lake Geneva area.”

Noting that her past work at the state level made her wonder whether Lake Geneva would keep her busy enough.

“I got that answer the first 24 hours I was here,” she added. “There’s so much to do.”

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