The recent Route 66 Miles of Possibilities Conference in
Joliet, Illinois proved to be a great opportunity for selling Kingman as a destination as well as an extended stop on the way to somewhere else. Participation in the historic event, as well as the trip that provided an array of marketing opportunities was made possible through contributions from the Route 66 Association of Kingman, Scott McCoy of the Gold Doctor, MyMarketing Designs, Grand Canyon Caverns, Ramada Kingman, and patrons of the Jim Hinckley’s America crowdfunding initiative.
Tourism development is a long term project that seldom results in immediate return on investment. However, the tangible benefits associated with things such as attendance of the recent conference have a tendency to grow over time. That can have a cumulative affect on sales tax revenues. In diminutive Atlanta, Illinois, a sharpened focus on tourism development resulted in a demonstrable increase of sales tax revenue by 40% over a four year period.
As an example of the long term benefits, in 2014 travels to an event in Illinois provided an opportunity to meet with tour development consultants for Adventure Caravans. Now, every October, their Route 66 tour spends two days exploring Kingman and the surrounding area. In 2016 the City of Kingman provided $1,600 plus reimbursement for an airline ticket which allowed me to attend the first European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen Germany where I made a presentation on Kingman area attractions, and distributed promotional materials. The benefits to Kingman derived from attendance is beginning to snowball.
Last evening Tron Moberg of Norway was our guest for dinner and a few beers. Moberg has been leading Route 66 tours for more than 15 years but does not make Kingman an overnight stop. That will change in 2018. Even more exciting is his developing plan for the first European Route 66 tour with participation from the Dutch, Norwegian, German, Czech, and UK Route 66 associations, and enthusiasts from Belgium, Italy, and France. Three communities will serve as an overnight stop for the entire group on this tour and Kingman is one of these.
Travel to Joliet, as well as the conference itself, provided a wide array of opportunities for Kingman area promotion. Posters from Grand Canyon Caverns are now on display in museums, cafes, visitor centers, and other locations along the Route 66 corridor from Joliet to Holbrook. The Route 66 Association of Kingman promotional network was expanded. In a meeting with Melissa Beasley, president of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, arrangement was made for inclusion of events along the Route 66 corridor in Arizona in a new section of that organizations award winning publication commencing in 2018. In Cuba, Missouri a meeting with Otto Lo of Taiwan based Sinoway International Travel LTD showed great promise as he was scouting locations for forthcoming tours along Route 66 and in the southwest. A meeting with the owners of Belmont Winery moved the concept of a Route 66 winery corridor closer to reality. If Kingman wants representation at the 2018 Route 66 International Festival in Shamrock, Texas, arrangements were made with organizers for participation.
At the conference itself, I made a presentation on Kingman tourism 1900 to 2020, and showed episode two of the Jim Hinckley’s America: Trek Along Route 66 video that showcased Grand Canyon Caverns, Antares Point, and the artistry of Gregg Arnold. Additionally, I also assisted with travel plans for eight people who are now including Kingman as an overnight stop on a trip along Route 66 before the end of the year. The raffle table was awash with Kingman promotional materials including a quilt donated by Bonnie Conaway on behalf of the Route 66 Cruisers, coupons for motel rooms and caverns tours at Grand canyon Caverns, copies of the Jim Hinckley’s America DVD’s produced by MyMarketing Designs, collectible posters from the 2014 Route 66 International Festival and Grand Canyon Caverns. I also had a table for the distribution of promotional materials including Promote Kingman t-shirts with website information, and Route 66 Association of Arizona “dollars” purchased before leaving for Joliet, and the sale of my books. There was also a Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook live program with the topic of discussion being Route 66 tourism, and Kingman’s role in the establishment of the annual conferences.
I am curious to see how participation in the conference and the recent trip manifests in Kingman area tourism over the course of coming months. I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to participate in this historic event. To say that I was honored and humbled by the opportunity would be akin to saying that it is a bit warm in Needles come July.
As a couple of final notes, on November 7, I have facilitated a lunch and caverns tour for Australian based Route 66 Tours. If your in the neighborhood, stop by and meet some fans of the double six from the land down under. In December, a related project takes us to California, and the members of the Brazilian Route 66 Association will be making a stop in Kingman latter that month. That takes us to 2018, a year filled with promise for Kingman. Stay tuned for details.