CRAFT Case Study: The Pioneering Plains

The Pioneering Plains travel region, located in northeast Colorado, was awarded a Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Recovery Mentor program by the Colorado Tourism Office in fall 2020 to advance recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from Logan and Morgan counties participated in the program and will continue to drive the work forward for the travel region as additional partner counties are incorporated.

The objective of this CRAFT Recovery Mentor program was to support the travel region develop a content marketing plan that helps tourism partners across the travel region collaboratively implement marketing strategies that build their reputation with birders, the niche audience that was identified for the travel region in spring 2020 by the CTO. Work was focused on growing awareness of Pioneering Plains as a premier birding location throughout Colorado and in states within a day’s drive.

The results of this project will position Pioneering Plains well to inspire as many residents and visitors to join the travel region to participate in a “Big Year” in 2022. For birders, a “Big Year” is when they compete with other birders to try to spot as many birds as possible within a calendar year.

CRAFT Mentor Program Results

Pioneering Plains was paired with Dave Santucci, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in rural tourism marketing, destination marketing, stakeholder engagement and tourism product development to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Development of an editorial calendar, summarized in Pioneering Plains Deliverables Document and detailed in a Trello Board, covering nine months of story headlines and descriptions from March to December 2021.
  • Development of content parameters that provide guidance on story length, social media content, and email marketing.
  • Development of a distribution plan for the editorial calendar, including a tiered approach to budgeting from minimal budget to a more robustly budgeted approach. The Trello Board has also been output as a PDF.

“This Recovery Mentor project brought the Logan and Morgan County partners to a new level for exploring our niche market. Dave Santucci was invaluable for his guidance in the development of a comprehensive marketing plan to benefit the entire Pioneering Plains. It’s exciting to collaborate with the state to advocate specifically for our region.” - Marilee Johnson, Logan County


About CRAFT Mentor

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) developed the Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) to support communities across the state integrate tourism into their economic development strategies and develop new visitor experiences aimed at attracting increased traveler spending. 

The CRAFT Recovery Mentor program provides up to 50 hours of mentoring for Colorado tourism partners to advance one or more tourism strategies that bolsters their response to a recent crisis or natural disaster. 


Marilee Johnson
Logan County Government
(970) 522-0888 Ext 253