Name: Zondra White Jones
Title: Senior Sales Manager
Organization: Visit the Northshore
Location: St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Birthplace: Mandeville, Louisiana
Education: Associate’s degree in mass communication, Mary Holmes Junior College
• Holiday Inn in Covington, front desk, sales manager — 1995–2005
• Visit the Northshore, senior sales manager — 2006–present
Of all the gatherings Zondra White Jones has planned over her 17-year tenure as senior sales manager at Visit the Northshore, family reunions are her favorite. In fact, her own brought in 215 guests. As a third-generation resident of St. Tammany Parish, White Jones says sharing her hometown with visitors is the best part.
“I grew up here and I think this area is amazing,” she said. “We’re 45 minutes north of New Orleans, and some people say it’s the Hamptons of New Orleans. It’s not a slow-paced or sleepy destination. It’s very diverse — we have rolling hills and farms, and on the other side, there are swamps. We have many museums, a wonderful culinary scene and lots of outdoor activities.”
White Jones’ career in the tourism industry began after she got her associate’s degree in mass communication. Newly married to her high school sweetheart and busy with two young children, she took a job working at the front desk of the Holiday Inn in nearby Convington.
“I worked there for 10 years and absolutely loved it,” she said. “I moved from the front desk to becoming a sales manager, and I was like, ‘this is it; this is what I want to do.’”
It was that job that led her to start working at Visit the Northshore, thanks to a contact she met at the Holiday Inn who worked at the CVB. That was 17 years ago, and she hasn’t looked back.
Visit the Northshore represents nine towns within the St. Tammany Parish, which some might find overwhelming but which White Jones finds exciting because things are always changing, offering new attractions to the destination.
“I went from knowing the hotel like the back of my hand to going to this enormous destination, which was a huge learning curve,” she said. “There’s a lot going on — I feel like I’m still getting to know it as a destination, from hotels to restaurants and attractions. You build relationships getting to know everyone, and that’s what I love. I’m still learning 17 years later.”
Her kids are 31, 29 and 25 now, but White Jones will still help them plan an itinerary for when they come home to visit, sometimes bringing friends. She might send them to a local brewery, to go berry picking or even to a one-stop-shop, the local year-round farmers market.
“You can go to the farmers market, get some gumbo or fried fish and listen to some great music,” she said.
Music is a pillar in White Jones’ life — she began singing in church about age 5, joining the choir with her sister, who is just 15 months older. They sang with the choir through high school, even traveling to New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall. White Jones attended her junior college on a vocal scholarship and always dreamed of being a professional singer.
“But I needed a stable job and I had two children,” she said. “That never came to fruition, but I’m not out of the game — my sister and I perform with our band, Soul Revival. So I’m not a big celebrity, just a local celebrity. I told my husband I think I’m exactly where I need to be.”
Tips from Zondra White Jones
• Work with your CVBs. We know about all the hidden gems in our area and can connect you to the local vendors to ensure your event will be memorable. We’re a one-stop shop and can assist you from the beginning of the planning stages until the end. All our services are complimentary.
• Be yourself! People plan with people they know and trust, so build those connections. Be interested, not interesting. That’s how you build lasting relationships.
• Enjoy! Be present and welcoming to all. Take the time to enjoy meeting new and diverse people.