The end of the year lends itself well to reflection, and to
looking toward a new year filled with promise. To say the very least, 2017, from the perspective of tourism and related marketing, has been the best of times and the worst of times in Kingman. Of course, that can be said for every year.
The debut of episode one of the video series Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66 developed by MyMarketing Designs, with partial funding from Kingman Area Tourism, set the stage for a year of multifaceted promotion and marketing. In episode one that showcased Kingman as a destination, author Jim Hinckley served as host for a walking tour in the historic district, and through the Powerhouse Visitor Center, and viewers were introduced to events like Chillin’ on Beale. The second episode in the series, developed with funding from Grand Canyon Caverns, showcased the Route 66 corridor from the caverns to Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center.
The videos are now being distributed all along the Route 66 corridor, sold through Promote Kingman, at a book store in Burbank, and through special arrangement with Legends of America. They were also shown at the Miles of Possibility Conference in Joliet, Illinois, an event that attracts Route 66 enthusiasts and Route 66 association members from throughout the world.
Even though overall international tourism in the United States plummeted precipitously in 2017, Kingman fared fairly well due to its association with Route 66, partnerships in the international Route 66 community, and resultant of having representation at the first European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, Germany last year. More than a dozen couples took advantage of invitations made at that event, and utilized the materials provided to plan on making Kingman a destination stop.
Partnerships played an important role in the successes of 2017. On May 16, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, the Promote Kingman initiative, the Route 66 Cruizers, and Dora Manley representing the Garlic Clove hosted a reception for a U.S. Bikers (a Netherlands based company) tour led by Dries Bessels, a founding member of the Dutch Route 66 Association and an inductee into the stillborn Route 66 Walk of Fame. U.S. Bikers now makes Kingman an overnight stop for several tours.
The relationship with the Dutch Route 66 Association also resulted in the donation of two models created by the late artist Willem Bor. Highly sought after by collectors, the models are already becoming an attraction in themselves. The model of Twin Arrows Trading Post with custom display created by artist Gregg Arnold was unveiled at Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center. The intricately detailed model of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner is on display in the historic Dunton Motors showroom.
Arrangements were facilitated between Route 66 Tours, an Australian company, and the management of Grand Canyon Caverns for a lunch stop and caverns tour package. The trial run proved so successful the company returned on their fall tour, and will now include the caverns as a stop on their 2018 tours, and an overnight stop during the Route 66 Fun Run.
A vintage military vehicle convoy traveling Route 66 and the welcome they received, the fund raising initiative of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation and assistance provided by the Route 66 Cruizers as well as the Promote Kingman initiative also provided Kingman with a promotional boost. Likewise with receptions organized for travel journalists representing French, Canadian, domestic, German, British, Australian, Czech, and South African publications writing stories on Route 66 and the American southwest, and dinner receptions organized by the Route 66 Association of Kingman for representatives of Route 66 associations in Japan, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.
The Route 66 Cruizers had rolled out the red carpet for Craig Parish’s Route 66 Motor Tour for several years. This year they arranged to host Chillin’ on Beale in conjunction with the motor tours arrival and it was a raging success. The response received was overwhelmingly positive, and plans are well underway for something even more impressive next year.
Representation at the Miles of Possibility Conference in Joliet, Illinois also bolstered Kingman’s recognition as a destination. The journal for the Canadian Route 66 Association, in an article about the event, noted in detail the presentation on Kingman area tourism made by author Jim Hinckley, and the array of materials on display as well as contributed for the raffle. Representation was made possible through the contributions of sponsors including the Gold Doctor, Route 66 Association of Kingman, MyMarketing Designs, and Grand Canyon Caverns, and support provided through the Jim Hinckley’s America crowdfunding initiative.
Of course, not everything came up roses in 2017. A Norwegian company deterred by the businesses closed on Sunday and the lack of WiFi at the Powerhouse Visitor Center decided to make Lake Havasu City the overnight stop on their Route 66 tours. A German group decided that Seligman worked best as the overnight stop for their tours, and an invitation to show the video series as well as distribute Kingman area promotion at several major events was respectively declined due to funding issues.
This is the past. The future holds tremendous promise. Trond Moberg is organizing a European Route 66 tour in limited partnership with Route 66 associations throughout Europe, and Kingman is in the running to be an overnight stop. An invitation has been extended for presentations on Kingman and Route 66 in the southwest to be made at numerous events including the Route 66 International Festival in Shamrock, Texas, and the European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czech republic. A New Zealand and Australian tour company will participate in the Route 66 Fun Run. Warren Roberts will be traveling Route 66 in a 1918 Dodge, with his family and full media coverage, and make Kingman an overnight stop. Mark Fletcher, an Australian television personality, is hosting a Route 66 tour in 2018, and Kingman is an overnight stop for him as well.
Slowly but surely people are discovering that Kingman is more than a stop on the way to someplace else. Now, the question is if Kingman will discover that it is a destination, a vacation paradise.