New Blister event, TAPP carbon offsets get nixed
[ By Kendra Walker ]
During a special meeting on March 30, the Mt. Crested Butte town council awarded admissions tax grant money to local organizations and companies for marketing events and initiatives in Mt. Crested Butte this summer. The usual suspects of applicants were awarded funds, while a new promising enterprise from Blister Review was given opportunity as well. TAPP’s new idea to offset carbon through the CBGTrails app was not funded, due to their request not fitting in with the grant’s criteria language. The following were awarded funds for the summer grant cycle:
Adaptive Sports Center: $24,300 to attract individuals and groups to Adaptive.
Crested Butte Nordic: $10,800 for marketing the Summer Grand Traverse.
Chamber of Commerce: $13,000 for the Fourth of July evening concert and for marketing the Chili and Beer Fest on September 11.
Crested Butte Music Festival: $4,000 in marketing support for the 25th summer season.
Travel Crested Butte: $12,000 to help market summer air service to GUC.
Blister: $30,000 for marketing a female mountain biking event this summer.
New women’s mountain bike event
Jonathan Ellsworth of Blister Review shared his plans for the new women’s mountain biking event to take place in Mt. Crested Butte this summer.
“I think there’s a really interesting opportunity to help establish or further establish Mt. Crested Butte as the place that is extremely encouraging and inviting to women mountain bike riders,” he said. “I think the valley has done a very good job in making itself synonymous with mountain biking. We can do a really interesting thing in terms of showing off and building up Mt. Crested Butte as a place that is really inviting and encouraging for women to come ride here.
The intention is that it will become an annual event, explained Ellsworth. “As women are shown some of the trails in the bike park and surrounding areas, they’ll be familiarized with the area. That familiarity seems to encourage return visits. We’re also creating this global annual state of the union to sit down with brands to talk about what they’re doing and what’s new. There’s nobody else in the global mountain bike media that is currently doing this.”
The initial plan is to hold the event September 16-19, with bike rides tailored to the registered attendees, possible gear demos and panel discussions led by local riders. “We’re looking to integrate and show off that local riding community that truly exists here,” said Ellsworth. A collection of videos featuring visiting brands will also be shot during the weekend for post-event marketing, featuring Mt. Crested Butte as the backdrop and host location.
Council member Lauren Koelliker noted that the Trek Dirt Camp is scheduled to come to Crested Butte the same weekend. “That might create a bit of a hurdle with the timing of a competing event doing a similar thing,” she said.
Ellsworth was open to looking into other dates, and said he would get in touch with Trek.
“My concern is we’re subsidizing brands by paying two-thirds of your ask for brand promotion,” said council member Dwayne Lehnertz. “I’m in favor of giving you part of what you’re asking for but certainly not all…What is the benefit to us in supporting product videos? I don’t like having the town pay for that.”
“In those brand lineup videos, we would have a host, baked into the conversation is ‘we’re here in Mt. Crested Butte, we’re riding these trails,’” explained Ellsworth. “We’re creating an asset for the brands to promote and share on their channels, reinforcing this event taking place in Mt. Crested Butte. That’s where we’re reinforcing this broader marketing play that it’s a very women friendly mountain bike destination and women should come here and ride.”
“I love the idea of this event, I think it’s got a lot of potential but I think it’s very early on in the creation of the event,” said council member Roman Kolodziej. “It just needs a lot more thought and work especially with the recent development with the Trek event. There are so many open-ended pieces of this, but I want to see this event happen in the future and I’d like to be a part of making that happen.”
Council voted 5-2, with Roman and council member Michael Bacani against, in favor or funding the project for $30,000. The council also asked that Blister create a 1-2-minute promo video marketing the event prior to it taking place.
No to carbon offsets
TAPP is looking to support sustainable tourism initiatives by developing a carbon offset program within the CBGTrails app. Users will be able to record their human-powered activities on the area’s trails with the goal of offsetting the carbon that they used to get here to visit. TAPP intends to purchase UPCO2 tokens (carbon credit currency) to offset carbon based on user mileage recorded in the app, and requested $40,000 from the council to help with the purchase. 100 miles of human powered activity would offset 1 ton of carbon emissions. TAPP’s plan was to double the carbon offset for tracks that originate in Mt. Crested Butte, so that it would only take 50 miles to offset 1 ton of carbon.
“By incentivizing users to start their rides in Mt. Crested Butte, they’re spending time in Mt. Crested Butte,” said TAPP marketing director Andrew Sandstrom. “We’re tying Mt. Crested Butte as the brand supporting this sustainability,” he said.
Sandstrom noted that using Arrivalist data, TAPP will be able to track people who use the app and then stay in Mt. Crested Butte. He also noted part of the reason TAPP landed on this initiative is during a recent Colorado Tourism Office meeting they learned that 75 percent of potential visitors would make a trip decision based on a destination that cares about the environment. “We want to attract like-minded people,” said Sandstrom. “We want people to come here that care about the outdoors.”
Council agreed to fund the $40,000, however because their criteria typically calls for funding marketing dollars, they wanted to get final approval from town attorney Kathy Fogo who was not at the meeting.
During the regular town council meeting on April 6, Fogo shared with council that she did not think TAPP’s ask to fund the carbon offsets fit the grant criteria.
“It really seems like funding a carbon offset is not funding an event and while it does support our sustainability goals…as it sits today it does not follow the intent of the tax usage,” she said, explaining that the original admissions tax grant language is worded to fund either marketing or events sponsorship. “They didn’t ask for marketing.”
“But if it’s an incentive to get people to come here, how is it different than funding a band?” said Koelliker. “We’ve consistently said yes to those asks because they’re considered sponsorship.”
“This is marketing us as an environmentally conscious community and more directly tying to if people were encouraged to come ride in Mt. Crested Butte they would hopefully have lunch in Mt. Crested Butte or have a beer at the base area and maybe even lodging,” said council member Nicholas Kempin.
“I don’t think anyone is questioning the benefit of the overall program. We’re questioning using ad tax funds for funding the request’s specific cost,” said town manager Isa Reeb.
Fogo recommended the council could request that TAPP rework their application so the funds tie directly to marketing the campaign.
“I’d like to see them figure a way to get this off the ground and support it. I think it’s worth giving them the options,” said council member Steve Morris.
But ultimately, because it wasn’t an official agenda item, the council couldn’t vote on it and decided that because their original vote was pending town attorney approval and she didn’t approve it, they would not be able to give the $40,000 to TAPP for this grant cycle.