Maw is being recognized for his work as a pioneer of internet tourism for the state.
Much like the state it’s named for, Utah.com didn’t just appear overnight. A lot of adventurous folks had to put forward some big ideas and hard work to see those ideas realized. None had a bigger hand in that work than Rick Maw, who founded Utah.com and this year is being inducted into the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame.
Presented by the Utah Tourism Industry Association and the Utah Office of Tourism, the award honors those who have made lasting contributions to our state’s world class tourism industry. Inductees are nominated by their peers, and in Rick’s case, his inductor, Lance Syrett, saw it as “a no brainer.”
“Rick has done so much for Utah tourism,” Lance said, “He needs to be recognized.” Lance, the current General Manager at Ruby’s Inn, has actually been nominating Rick for a few years now, but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, and there have been many other deserving candidates in an industry that’s as crowded as it is talented. Still, Lance didn’t give up, making it a personal goal of his to see Rick nominated. In 2022, Lance got his wish, and now Rick is getting his recognition.
A Digital Pioneer
The early days of the internet were, as Lance describes them, “Like the Wild West.” And much like the Old West, there were plenty of opportunities to be found by those who saw the potential in this new frontier.
Rick Maw was one of those folks. He knew there would be a need for a first-rate Utah tourism site, and he knew he was the man for the job. Then, much like Brigham Young stepped into the Salt Lake Valley and said “This is the right place,” Rick typed in Utah.com into his browser and said “This is the right domain.”
But if the early internet was the Old West, there were, of course, plenty of problems and pitfalls to be found among the prosperity. Rick had to navigate new digital territory and all the clunky operating systems, miscommunications and reboots that came with it. Not to mention the virtual cattle rustlers and cyber train robbers.
Rick’s vision was so early on, in fact, that Utah.com’s first iteration was actually a printed Utah travel guide that Rick had cut up and scanned onto his computer. It was the first Utah travel website ever made. The site was presented to the Utah Travel Council, and Utah.com was born.
Utah.com grew with the internet, and soon became a premiere online destination for those seeking to visit our premiere real world destinations. Rick worked frantically to get every region, guide, outfitter, hotel and travel service a place on the internet, because he knew how many deserving people, business and destinations were out there. He wanted to create the most comprehensive site possible and bring more people to explore our great state. “I’m not so sure that was such a good idea,” Rick says today, “Because now I have to get a reservation to get into Arches and enter a lottery to hike Angels Landing.”
Jokes aside, Utah.com has since resonated with lots of folks who want to plan a trip and have some fun while they’re at it, and Rick owes the site’s success to the support of the many people he’s worked with in the Utah travel industry. Rick still treasures the relationships he’s made with everyone he met during his years with Utah.com. In fact, when Lance called him to tell him about his nomination, Rick thought he was just calling to bounce some new business ideas off of him.
A New Era
As the Wild West period of the internet faded away, Utah.com settled into a steady, successful role as the go-to travel site for Utah visitors. And just like Butch Cassidy eventually hung up his hat, moved to South America, faked his own death and then moved to Washington, Rick too felt he was ready to move on with the times.
Ever the pioneer, Rick decided in 2013 that it was time to move on to his next endeavor. He sold the site and left it in the capable hands of Deseret Digital Media. DDM continues to operate the site to this day, always with Rick’s original vision in mind. Because although the ownership of Utah.com has changed since its inception, its spirit remains the same. When asked why he continues to use and trust Utah.com, Lance said, simply, “Because there’s no corresponding service that can do what they do for us.”
It’s easy to see what Rick has done for local businesses like Ruby’s Inn, but equally impressive is what he’s done for everyday folks looking to explore Utah’s red rock canyons and snow capped peaks. He’s given them a place that has answers to their questions, new destinations to explore and an endless number of adventures to discover. There’s always something new to find in Utah and on Utah.com, and we have Rick Maw to thank for that.
As for Rick? He’s still out there exploring. Some of his favorite adventures in Utah include hiking in national parks, fishing in mountain streams, skiing fresh snow and off-roading in the sand dunes. And that’s all when he’s not enjoying all the wonderful food Utah has to offer. Says Rick, “I still have a lot of places to explore on my bucket list. I hope I can check them all off.”