THEY SAY IT TAKES A VILLAGE to raise a child, but in this case, you could say the child has helped raise the village. Tonja Hanson, director of resort sales for The Canyons, is a fifth-generation native of Summit County who has spent more than two decades in Park City's hospitality and tourism industry, contributing to the region's status as an international destination.
"Park City blood runs deep in my veins. It's ironic that I spent so much time [here] as a little girl, and now I'm so involved in the tourism," says Hanson.
Hanson began her career selling ski vacations for a local vacation wholesaler. She moved on to be director of sales and marketing for both Silver King Hotel and Olympia Park Hotel (now the Park City Marriott). From there, she became director of sales for Park City Mountain Resort. Now, in addition to her post at The Canyons, she is the only woman on the Park City Chamber's executive board and volunteers as the chairperson for the Summit County Restaurant Tax Committee.
With so much personal history in Park City, people often ask Hanson if she laments "all the changes in Park City," referring to its evolution from a rustic mining town to glam wonderland. "If it weren't for the changes, Park City wouldn't exist," she replies. "It was turning into a ghost town, but now it's a world-class resort. It's great."
Indeed, Hanson's not afraid of change, or of challenges. In fact, she likes the idea of a good fight. "I approach challenges head on," says Hanson. "I try to figure out why there is a problem, and what we can do to resolve it in a way that perhaps no one else has thought about."
Over the years, her creative problem solving has served Park City well. During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, for example, experts were forecasting a drought in revenue for Olympic venues. Hanson, who was director of sales for PCMR at the time, developed a plan to keep sales flowing. She created an exclusive program that catered to major corporate Olympic sponsors, showering them with a full day of attentive service, equipment fittings, private instruction, fine dining and more.
Hanson won over clients such as NBC, bringing in several waves of guests for the packaged services. Was it a tough sell? "It definitely took a lot of tenacity, but I have that, so it was a fun piece of business to get, and it was a significant revenue...