Moab, Fruita successful in building global brands
Marian DeLay sits at her desk and clicks open a photo file on her computer. It’s a bus with a Moab advertisement plastered across the side. That bus is in Portland, Ore.
DeLay and the four-person staff at the Moab Area Travel Council are makers of broad-reaching marketing magic.
Funded by Grand County transient tax dollars collected from overnight lodging properties, the folks at the council orchestrate an unceasing quest to peddle Moab.
From billboards along Interstate 70, including two facing westbound traffic that flank Fruita’s exit, to radio and television spots and glossy magazine advertisements, Moab’s status as an outdoor playland is broadcast to the masses by a variety of means.
Those masses are located here in the states and overseas.
“Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Utah — that’s where the biggest focus is,” DeLay said. “After that, we have a little bit of international stuff we do.”
And Moab, like Fruita, offers a lot to market.
“Our job is to represent the county, to market the county and let people know what we have available here and how to visit Moab in a sensible way, a safe way, a caring way,” DeLay said, “so they can enjoy themselves and what there is to do here.”
The website discovermoab.com, a guide to the area’s attractions and outdoor activities, is one way the Moab Area Travel Council communicates that message.
An online presence is perhaps the best way to make an impact in the marketing department, Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney said. Funded by lodging-tax dollars, the city of Fruita manages its own tourism and marketing efforts.
“The biggest investment for us the last several years have been websites, Google ads,” he said. “The Web is the most cost-effective, for sure.”
Fruita’s website, gofruita.com, markets all the city has to offer, from its festivals, restaurants and hotels to mountain biking and dinosaurs.
For a while, dinosaurs were the big thing in Fruita. The Dinosaur Journey Museum, which sits on the south side of I-70, remains a draw for families. These days, the prehistoric creatures whose remnants litter the western Colorado landscape, share the spotlight with mountain biking.
Just look at the grain elevator that towers above I-70 near the Fruita exit. On one side, facing eastbound traffic, is a giant sign picturing a mountain biker. On the other side of that grain elevator? A dinosaur.
Kinney and the city of Fruita have embraced mountain biking. An avid mountain biker himself, he’s experienced the area’s famed trails firsthand.
“We’re embracing it now, to the point we give dollars for trail creation outside the city limits and that kind of thing,” he said.
And, as is the case with Moab, Fruita’s marketing efforts target a broad audience. Bike Magazine’s recently published “The Bible of Bike Tests” featured Fruita on its cover. The city’s tourism arm devoted big resources — around $10,000, Kinney said — to the spread.
“That was one of those great collaborations where the bike store knows the people writing, and the guys really wanted to come here,” Kinney said as he thumbed through the annual publication. “So, we call them, and they say, ‘Yeah, we want to be there, but we need X, Y and Z to be there to help offset the cost for the month they need to be out here to write the articles.’ “
Using tourism dollars, the city made it happen, further advancing its brand in the process.
For the Moab Area Travel Council and the city of Fruita, it’s all about marketing an identity. For both, the pillar of that identity is mountain biking.
“It’s probably one of the most sexy industries we’ve got,” Kinney said. “It’s what we’re known for.”
Be it a bus advertisement in the Pacific Northwest or the cover of a glossy, widely distributed magazine that littered newsstands with imagery of Fruita’s world-class trails, it’s safe to declare Moab and Fruita global brands.