Colorado Tourism Office’s John Ricks talks about emotional pull at Navigator Awards |

Colorado Tourism Office’s John Ricks talks about emotional pull at Navigator Awards

Michael Schrantz
John Ricks, associate director for the Colorado Tourism Office, presents the keynote address at the Navigator Awards luncheon, which was held Tuesday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell

— With only a few weeks to scramble together a commercial campaign for the summer tourism season, a group of videographers were told to head into the wilderness.

As Colorado Tourism Office Associate Director John Ricks explained Tuesday during the annual Navigator Awards luncheon at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, there was no time for a script, and the crew was given carte blanche to do what it wanted to get its shots.

During a shoot at Bridal Veil Falls near Telluride, a man and a child were positioned in front of the falls, and as the mist came over the child, he spontaneously raised his hands into the air.

The result of that unscripted action is a powerful shot panning around the child as he takes in the falls.

The genuine awe shown in that moment is exactly what Ricks wants to draw out of everyone who watches the minutelong commercial.

The Colorado Tourism Office’s Come to Life campaign is based off what Ricks described as “higher order” emotional triggers.

The reason people come here isn’t necessarily the same as what they do here, he said.

He explained the Tourism Office was not luring visitors to Colorado by telling them there’s biking, hiking and skiing.

“This is personal,” Ricks said about the campaign’s focus. “This has to do with my life as a consumer.”

That’s where Colorado’s tourism marketing departs from every other state marketing campaign, according to Ricks.

He showed two word bubbles on the screen. The first was what people think of when you say Colorado. That screen was filled with expected words: outdoors, skiing, mountains, hiking. But the word bubble that the campaign was based off was entirely different. It was filled with concepts such as life, beauty and adventure.

“It’s about getting into people’s minds,” Ricks said.

The intent is to create a sense of place, Ricks explained. And the measurement for the effectiveness of the Come to Life campaign is worlds away from the tenor of the ads themselves.

The Colorado Tourism Office has made great strides in the past two years, Ricks said, toward measuring how many trips are generated by its efforts and how those trips translate into money spent and tax revenue returned to the state.

The results show that summer generates more trips and revenue but that the average winter visitor spends more than a summer visitor per trip.

“We have proof now if we get money, we can make it turn,” he said.

The Navigator Awards are sponsored annually by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. The awards ceremony is held in conjunction with the Chamber’s annual meeting.

Navigator Award winners

Business of the Year

Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare

Ski & Bike Kare manager Derek Hodson thanked the store’s employees and the community groups he said work so hard on all the biking and other events in Steamboat.

“Groups give us opportunities” to give back, he said.

Businessperson of the Year

Jim Schneider, vice president of skier services for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

“You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” Schneider said while complimenting the crowd in the room as well as his colleagues at Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

He also thanked his wife and daughter.

Schneider said the USA Pro Challenge cycling race, in which he was instrumental in organizing in Steamboat, was truly indicative of what the community can do.

Young Professional of the Year

Chris Tamucci, director of operations for BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger

Tamucci went person by person thanking everyone at the table where his company was represented in the crowd.

Employment is a privilege, he said, but it’s also an opportunity.

“The biggest thanks goes out to my three bosses,” Tamucci said.

Read more about all the winners.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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