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Business Happenings - May 2002

OARS Adventures Seeks to “Exceed People’s Expectations.”
by Carrie Mossien

Jason Taylor and Dave Bodner are the brains and the logistics behind the 29 different trips offered by OARS during the river and jeep adventure season of Moab. They leave the charismatic details of customer service to the 30-plus guides who work for them during peak times, all the while paying close attention to the myriad details of making each and every customer’s vacation a memorable one.

“We happen to be in the adventure travel business, but we know we’re in the customer service business,” Dave says.

“We’re in the business of going on vacation with people,” Jason adds. “And we want it to be an incredible vacation.”

With more Cataract Canyon trips than nearly anyone in the valley, and jeep tours to Elephant Hill - a place Jason said 99 percent of the people who visit Moab will never see - OARS sets out to make a lasting impression on visitors so that they will come back, and bring other with them. The company also prides itself on “striving to get people to participate in the trips.” One method is built in; OARS goes out on the Daily, a relatively calm stretch of the Colorado River starting out 40 miles upriver from Moab, in paddle boats. This sets the OARS trips apart, as the guides are not doing all of the work.

“We believe this helps people want to get to know the area, and what makes it unique,” Jason said.
Dave said OARS takes parties through Cataract Canyon at least once, and often two to three times a week. These trips are packaged a variety of ways: one 14-day excursion starting off in Green river; one 12-day trip, and several five and six-day Cataract trips by paddle and oars, and four-day motor trips. One of the most popular, for people who want to go through Cataract but have less times, is a one-day motor trip. OARS purchased a special boat for those excursions.“We try to run small groups and offer personalized service,” Jason said. “We definitely go the extra mile. We want to exceed people’s expectations."

Dave and Jason send out approximately 60,000 mailings a year to their target market, but also rely on a local clientele, and especially on a local work force. Jason said the company gets “great traffic” with its on-line reservation system through the OARS web site, “but the number one marketing tool is word of mouth,” he says.

“We have three or four people who have taken every trip we have to offer,” Jason added. “that’s an amazing thing. And they tell their friends. That’s how we get a lot of our business.”

OARS also offers annual trips for small groups – youth and church groups the company provides special packages for. “They come back year after year,” Jason said.

OARS has been in the adventure tourism business for over 30 years. Services offered include corporate retreats, four-day lodging and adventure packages that include river and land tours, daily jet boat trip below Dead Horse Point, photography tours, San Juan River tours and back country flights with Redtail Aviation. The company has permits for all three National Parks in the area and the staff includes experienced campers and cooks. And if a customer does not find the tour package he or she wants at OARS, Dave and Jason will call other companies in the area to fix them up.

“We understand you’re on vacation,” Dave said. “And we understand we are paid to be on vacation with you.”

OARS brochures detailing all of their packages are available at the office at 543 North Main Street in Moab, or call 435-259-5865 (toll free 800-342-5938). Reservations may be made on line at the OARS web site: www.oarsutah.com.

“We geared up for the season, but there’s really never a down time,” Jason said. “We are organizing and refining trips all winter long, as well as taking reservations.”

 
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