When I signed on with the Sierra Mesa spread out of Faywood, New Mexico, I wasn’t exactly a greenhorn. I had earned my spurs working for the Cedar Springs Ranch based in the Music Mountains of Arizona, and had worn a bit of leather off the tree riding for other outfits in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. I had even tried my hand at bronc riding but soon decided that was a good living if you didn’t plan on living long. During my John Wayne period I learned that as with any profession, there were plenty of folk that are quite adept at giving a lick and a promise. They work harder at appearing to work than if they had simply put their shoulder to the wheel and got the job done. The entire crew pays the price for their showmanship, especially if they can bluff the trail boss or foreman.
When it comes to tourism, a key component in economic development, some communities prefer to give it a lick and a promise. Others put their shoulder to the wheel. In a nutshell the tourism/hospitality classes developed for Mohave Community College, and the presentation/workshop that is a condensed version of those classes was conceived as a means to provide tools for communities that want more than a lick and a promise approach to tourism development. I designed these under the Jim Hinckley’s America banner for places along the Route 66 corridor but can adapt them to work with any town.
Can you see the lick & promise?
A common mistake made by many communities is the transformation of the visitor center into the destination rather than the point of entry. This is the easiest way to give a lick and promise. It’s also the easiest way to fool the trail boss, especially if you can show pretty graphs and numbers. On the ranch the fellow bucking hay could give a lick and promise performance by stacking the bales so the barn looked full, and adding a bit of water to the sweat band in his hat. With tourism the lick and promise approach is just as hollow.
What is being promoted? Hidden behind the banner is a sign advertising the world’s only electric vehicle museum.
The lick and promise approach to tourism works to outshine what is perceived to be competition when in actuality it is an opportunity to build a powerful cooperative partnership. Of course even that requires to much effort so energy is wasted on creating the illusion of success, instead of simply saddling up and getting the job done.
With the lick and promise approach time is wasted deriving excuses for missed opportunity. This works for a bit but soon it is like the story of the emperor with no clothes. Folks notice but don’t want to be the first to point out the farce.
So, what’s the answer for communities where the lick and promise approach to tourism is deemed good enough? Education. Educated grassroots initiatives. Educated grassroots initiatives that can develop cooperative partnerships. Educated grassroots initiatives that can develop cooperative partnerships that maximize use of all available resources. Educated grassroots initiatives that use partnerships and resources that transform the community into a destination for visitors and for people looking for a great place to live, to retire, to open a business and to raise a family.
Pontiac in Illinois is a town where the lick and promise approach isn’t good enough, and it shows. Photo Jim Hinckley’s America
So do you live in a community where a lick and promise is deemed good enough?
The “A Year With Jim” project provides a behind the scenes tour of Jim Hinckley’s America.
To be honest I have been surprised by the popularity of the A Year With Jim project. I knew that some aspects of my daily routine such as the search for good pie, the meeting of tour groups from throughout the world, travel, and the visiting of historic sites would be of interest. However, I never imagined that people would be fascinated with the day to day life of an author who lives with a 21-year old cat that suffers from incontinence, that is consistently seeking new ways to generate income to support the writing habit, and that rambles about in an ancient Jeep.
A Year With Jim
“A Year With Jim, day 37. This week has left me feeling like the loser in a behind kicking contest for one legged men. Still, to ensure the habit of eating on a regular basis continues we soldier on. This mornings schedule included …” The best adventures are shared adventures. That is more than a motto here at Jim Hinckley’s America, it is the very foundation of all that we do from books to presentations, from community development projects to receptions for touring groups. It is also the slogan that inspired my launch of the rather voyeuristic endeavor that is the A Year With Jim project using the hashtag #yearinlifeofjim and #jimhinckleysamerica
Floyd & Company in Kingman, Arizona, a favorite of mine for good barbecue or gourmet wood fired pizza.
The concept was relatively simple; provide fans and followers with a behind the scenes tour of Jim Hinckley’s America. As with all of our projects, the goal was to provide inspiration for road trips, for fledgling writers, for community organizers, and for the curious individual that is considering the launch of a podcast, blog or YouTube channel for fun or profit. And of course there was also a marketing angle as the selling of books, of presentations, of my work as a tourism development consultant and of other services is what keeps beans on the table and the wheels turning on the Jeep (or rental car).
Isn’t funny how we can become so accustomed to the unusual that it seems normal, at least until someone points it out to us. That is what I glean from the comments posted about the A Year With Jim project. To me this wild, unpredictable, fun filled, often out of control ride has come to seem normal. In retrospect, I may have been preparing for this crazy adventure for the last fifty years or so.
In Kingman, Arizona, an outback adventure begins on the edge of town with the Cerbat Foothills trail system.
So, as our theme song recorded by the Road Crew says, come along for the ride. Follow the Year With Jim adventure on our Twitter or Instagram pages and meet some fascinating people, find a bit of inspiration for a road trip or an adventure, and see what goes on behind the programs, the books, the road trip planning, and behind the scenes at Jim Hinckley’s America.
The hulking Tufa stone walls of the Brunswick casts long shadows on Route 66 in the late afternoon. Perhaps the most notable event associated with the hotel was an impromptu reception held for Clark Gable and Carol Lombard after they married at the Episcopal Methodist Church on Spring Street, March 29, 1939. As of this writing, the hotel that dates to 1909 is undergoing a complete renovation. The Sportsman Bar next door is a bit of a dive but it is well worth a quick visit. Dark, tobacco stained walls can’t obscure the fact that this old saloon is an almost perfect time capsule from the era of statehood, 1912.
The Hotel Beale with its towering sign advertising the fact that the hotel is “air cooled” is a forlorn sight. The historic old building that dates to 1900 faces a very uncertain future but The old adage that if walls could talk is more than fitting for this tarnished old relic. Tom Devine, father of character actor Andy Devine, took on the role of proprietor in 1906. Legendary pioneering rancher Tap Duncan was a regular guest. Duncan was linked to an altercation with members of the gang led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He was also linked to outlaw Kid Curry who died using the alias Tap Duncan after a botched robbery attempt in Parachute, Colorado. In 1925, Buster Keaton took up residence at the hotel. He was filming Go West at tap Duncan’s Diamond Bar Ranch about sixty miles north of Kingman. Louis L’Amour was a regular at the Nighthawk Saloon at the hotel during this period. He worked at the Katherine Mines above the Colorado River and would occasionally engage in amateur boxing matches in Kingman. Charles Lindbergh often stayed at the hotel during construction of the cities first commercial airport, a link in his pioneering TAT airlines. Amelia Earhart was also a guest during the opening ceremonies for that airfield.
Always something to see at Chillin’ on Beale in Kingman, Arizona
This is an excerpt from a book, Jim Hinckley’s America: Kingman, Arizona & 160 Miles of Smiles, that I wrote a few years ago. I had two reasons for penning this small tome. First, I wanted to call attention to Kingman and showcase it as a destination, not just someplace to drive through on the way to somewhere else. Second, I was curious about the self publishing process.
Every Route 66 fan in the world knows about Kingman, after all it is mentioned in the famous song about getting your kicks on Route 66. And for at least 100 years people have been rolling through town on a major highway. First, the National Old Trails Road. Then Route 66, I-40, and US 93, and soon, I-11. And, it just so happens, the city is located at the heart of an incredible vacation paradise, a destination for those in the know. From an economic development standpoint the problem is that not enough people are in the know.
I have long had a fascination for marketing, for promotion, and for advertisement. My office is festooned with advertisements for 1917 GMC trucks, the 1940 Hudson, and Greyhound vacation destination brochures from 1950. The desk is awash in AAA hotel and service station guides from 1928, 1940, and 1955, as well as promotional atlases from a half century ago, and a pile of road maps. The file cabinets that frame my cubicle overflow with brochures for Ramblers and Studebaker trucks, decades old post cards, and the occasional odds and ends like a promotional brochure for Irish Hills in Michigan circa 1960.
As a result, I have learned that marketing linked with passion, vision, and leadership can successfully sell or promote almost anything be it an Edsel or a community. St. Robert, Missouri, a Route 66 community, is not mentioned in the famous ditty about getting your kicks on Route 66. Aside from Uranus General Store & Fudge Factory, and Fort Leonard Wood, they don’t have major attractions or iconic Route 66 locations such as Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. BUT they have Beth Wiles who has passion, vision, and that provides leadership. You can see this made manifest in the new Route 66 Passport Missouri Facebook page.
Courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts
The Mother Road Route 66 Passport developed by Marian Pavel of Touch Media represents an incredible marketing opportunity for communities. Beth Wiles and the folks with Pulaski County tourism recognize this and are capitalizing on it. Meanwhile other communities presented with the same opportunity … Well they are at the train depot waiting for their ship to come in.
For more than a century Kingman has flirted with becoming a major southwestern tourism destination. It has never happened. And yet, communities such as Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, places that didn’t really exist 60 years ago and that don’t have much to offer have eclipsed Kingman as a tourism destination. Neither of those Colorado River communities have a twelve month tourism season like Kingman. Nor do they have access to major highways or Amtrak. And they don’t have Route 66. So, I wonder what the problem is? In some towns it just seems like tourism is an accident, sort of like throwing enough paint at a canvas in the hope of creating a masterpiece.
Regardless of how well things are going everyone has one of those special days where you feel like a one legged man in a behind kicking contest. To make it worse, you take a peek at the clock and realize it isn’t even lunch time. At that juncture there are but two options, laugh or cry.
Today was glaring contrast to a week or so of relatively smooth sailing. A few days ago I received the proof for Murder & Mayhem On The Main Street: Tales From Bloody 66. This week my dearest friend and I will give it a final read through in search of glaring errors. The book was initially scheduled for release last fall but at the last minute there were some editorial changes approved and so additional content was written. And of course this led to a quest for additional historic images, and the writing of more captions. In spite of the frustrations associated with this project, the team at Rio Nuevo Publishing have done a pretty amazing job. I am rather confident that we have a winner on our hands and am eager to launch a promotional campaign.
The October promotional tour is still in the planning stages. However, I have confirmed a presentation about the infancy of the American auto industry and Jackson as the industry’s cradle in support of a fund raising program for the Hackett Auto Museum. This is located in Jackson, Michigan. Tentatively I will also be speaking at the Miles of Possibility Conference in Normal, Illinois. The date has not been set but I will also be speaking in Cuba, Missouri.
The Ten Minutes With Jim audio podcast and the weekly free newsletter are slowly picking up new subscribers weekly. More good news. The Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page following and engagement is also growing. This is another indication that as a travel planning service the multifaceted media network is providing a valued service.
Last Friday morning I had to cancel the Adventurers Club Live program but made up for it with a special live program from Fender’s River Resort in Needles, California during the relighting ceremony for the motels historic neon signage. I was able to interview a number of people that are deeply involved with the Route 66 renaissance including Jim Conkle, Rosie Ramos, the manager at Fender’s River Resort, Marian Pavel, the developer of the Route 66 Navigation app and the new Mother Road Route 66 Passport, and Delvin Harbour of the California Route 66 Association.
I had a very productive meeting with Marian Pavel, and the vice mayor of Kingman, Travis Lingenfelter, at Beale Street Brews coffee shop in Kingman on Monday morning. The topic of conversation ranged from the newly introduced Mother Road Route 66 Passport, pending updates to the Route Navigation app, an historic district planning session, and attendance of the Dutch Route 66 Association “meet & greet” in Amsterdam this August.
Work on the website has been progressing steadily and with few glitches. And we have picked up a couple of advertising sponsors that see value in what we are doing, and a way to get the biggest bang for their advertising dollar. Linked with this is the marketing of Jim Hinckley’s America as a travel planning portal including a portal in the new Route 66 passport.
This morning, however, I was left feeling as though the wheels had come off the bus and I hadn’t even made it to the end of the driveway. It kicked off with an early meeting of the recently minted Route 66 Crossroads, a nonprofit organization launched to develop tourism related community education programs. I had accepted the position of CEO earlier this spring. Well, not one but two board members gave notice that they would have to resign; one resultant of a family situation and the other a pending job transfer. The meeting of the Kingman Promotional Initiative that followed went well and as always it was rather productive. That was in spite of the fact that several key people had had to cancel rather abruptly.
For a number of reasons I am not a big fan of Walmart. I approach a shopping trip to this store the way I do a proctology exam; with a great deal of dread and apprehension. Still as I live in a relatively small rural town the store is a necessary evil at times. After this mornings meetings I headed for Walmart as there was a need for a couple of repair items, and as I was going there anyway, groceries. I exited I-40 and within two blocks was locked in dead stopped traffic for as the eye could see. A pretty series accident at an intersection had everything blocked. Forty-five minutes later I had traveled the 1.5 blocks to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant driveway. This took me to an alley behind a shopping center and into another fast food parking lot with access to Stockton Hill Road allowing me to bypass the accident. Unfortunately several dozen people had had the same idea.
I have yet to experience the “People of Walmart” – until today. That is, however a story for another day. Suffice to say that venture finished off the morning on a sour note.
Laugh or cry, it’s my choice. I guess I will laugh about this mornings exploits. After all, it has provided fodder for great stories.
Jim Hinckley’s America is in the adventure business. Sometimes the adventure is a road trip, sometimes
it is the joy of discovering a great new restaurant after getting lost on some back roads, sometimes it is hours of research in dusty archives or on line, and on occasion it is a voyage into the unknown. For the last week or so that voyage into uncharted waters has been in the guise of navigating website design, learning about API codes, filing note books, and mind numbing confusion.
Since sending off the new book to the publisher about ten days ago the focus has been on reinventing Jim Hinckley’s America. This includes the website, as well the free weekly newsletter filled with travel tips, restaurant reviews, project updates. I have also been focusing on expansion of the promotional network for businesses and communities that will ensure we are able to assist in the planning of the ultimate Route 66 adventure. It has been quite the adventure.
Let’s start with the news letter. You may subscribe by clicking on the Updates From Jim Hinckley’s America on the Facebook page. We send it out on Friday mornings but on occasion, such as this week it is the following morning. This weeks newsletter included reviews of a b & b in Michigan, a couple of restaurants in Missouri, and a Sunday brunch in Arizona. Updates on exciting new projects such as the Kingman Tourism initiative, and a bit of information about a Cuba tourism project (Missouri not the island).
The summer and fall travel schedule is being finalized. You can find details on the event section of the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page. There is still room in the calendar to schedule a presentation, in the United States as well as Europe, but the window of opportunity is getting narrow. In July, I will be in Shamrock at the Route 66 festival there, and in August we are off for the second European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czechia. September and October is when things really get busy. And as we are developing projects for tourism in Cuba, Missouri, there is the possibility that when we head east for Cuba Fest to debut the new book, and attend the Miles of Possibility Conference, it may be a month or two before we return to sunny Arizona. This rather exciting development moved one step closer to becoming a reality after this mornings discussion with Triss Voss of Belmont Winery, a delight event center and restaurant just east of Cuba.
As always, your ideas, suggestions, and input on what you would like to see from Jim Hinckley’s America is greatly appreciated. We are pretty handy at telling folks where to go, but it does help if we have an idea as to general direction.
Last but not least, a plug for our Patreon crowdfunding platform. The exclusive content posts this week included an update on the expansion of our promotional network, and another installment in weekly posting of entries from the summer 1915 travel journal penned by Edsel Ford during his journey west on the National Old Trails Road. The Patreon button is in the main menu.