Joann Veney (1942-2023): Entrepreneur who was passionate about tourism
A tourism entrepreneur who courted corporate groups to the island was driven to give visitors the type of “fantastic time that made them come back”, her daughter said.
Joann Veney channelled her work experience from the department store Trimingham’s into founding her own business, Destination Bermuda, in 1991.
She brought “a passion that was phenomenal for Bermuda”, her daughter Leslie said. And she spoke with pride of proving naysayers wrong by launching a successful business as a Black woman.
Ms Veney also worked “extensively” with the Department of Tourism.
“Our guests from overseas, I call them,” Ms Veney told the Mid-Ocean News in a 1995 business profile. “And we make sure we treat them like guests.”
David Dodwell, owner of The Reefs hotel who knew Ms Veney more than 30 years, said: “Three words describe her: commitment, loyalty and passion.”
He added: “She really felt strongly about getting Bermudians into the business, enough to start her own hospitality training programme.
“It’s important to note she was a Black woman trying to start her own business in Bermuda at a time when that would have been tough.
“She never shrank. She made friends across the spectrum and called upon people to meet her commitment to excellence.”
Ms Veney started out as a key punch operator and computer programmer for IBM in New York after attending business school in the US.
Back in Bermuda, Ms Veney worked for the electronics firm NCR, which launched computerised cash registers for supermarkets on the island.
Her entree to the hospitality business came through the jewellery and mail order gifts division of Trimingham’s, where Ms Veney put together gift sets for visitors and convention groups coming to the island.
After starting her business, she travelled with the Department of Tourism to meet travel agents and event planners. She left the department in 1998.
Ms Veney merged her DBL business with another she owned, Cranleigh Limited, a firm based in the Washington Mall in Hamilton that covered a string of services from language and business classes to a messenger service.
She opened a full-service travel agency, The Travel Planners.
Her family said Ms Veney’s work ethic typically had her at her desk from 6am.
“She worked 365 days a year, even going to the office on Christmas Day.”
Long after Trimingham’s closure in 2005, Ms Veney helped organise reunions of the department store’s tight-knit staff.
Her family tribute said: “Joann has left her mark on this family and the Bermuda business community.
“She will be remembered for her passion for tourism – and, if doing something, doing it right.”
• Joann Veney, a Bermudian tourism entrepreneur, was born on June 13, 1942. She died on January 8, 2023, aged 80