Group hotel rental problems addressed by commission

Hot Rod Magazine's Power Tour 2001 will be in Kingman May 10 booking at least 400 motel rooms, a breakthrough tourist event for the area, thanks to the quick action of the city's Economic and Tourism Development Commission.

With Kingman's participation in the event hanging in the balance and the magazine holding publication of an issue awaiting confirmation of rooms, Kingman Tourism Director Debbi Smith and Route 66 Wings and Wheels Director Bill Kirkland Thursday brought the problem to an ETDC meeting seeking help.

ETDC Chairman Wiatt Wong and Kingman City Councilman Tom Spear, a motel owner, visited other motels with Smith to obtain room commitments.

"I am thrilled that Kingman will get this major national tour staying here before the last leg of the trip to Santa Monica, Calif.," Smith said.

"Route 66 is where many of the car and motorcycle cross-country tours want to stay.

It has great growth potential."

Policies and attitudes of local motel operators who have not been willing to rent blocks of rooms for other tours have hampered tourism development in Kingman in the past, a frustrated Smith told the ETDC at the Thursday meeting.

Silver Queen Motel owner Wally Hutchinson said he is cooperating with the Hot Rod Power Tour 2001 for the good of the community although he does not agree with all the requirements.

"The $29.95 posted rates do not allow room for the commissions and comp rooms and I do not like the industry practice of posting different rates or posting higher rates than are usually charged," he said.

The Silver Queen provides rooms on a regular basis for ABF Trucking and maintains a parking area for big rigs.

Hutchinson said renting rooms for truck drivers is a major portion of the business for several motel owners in Kingman.

He said the motel association that once operated here was helpful when it existed - and such a group could help again.

As Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce tourism director, Smith is charged with placing people in motels to increase the revenue from the room tax that is used for tourism development.

She said many local motels would not participate last year when a tour operator asked for a block of 700 rooms for three days for a group tour.

"The contact asked for 700 rooms at $70 to $100 per night," she said.

"The industry standard pays a 10 percent commission and other fees.

Local motels said they could not afford to pay tour operator fees with room rates at $29.95 per night."

Kingman restaurants, service stations, Powerhouse gift shops and other business ventures lost the opportunity to sell to the people who would have filled the 700 rooms.

"One phone call to Laughlin and the business was lost to Kingman," Smith said.

Brunswick Hotel owner and ETDC member Gerard Guedon said Kingman does not realize the market value of motel rooms and the number of tours, like the Hot Rod Power Tour 2001, with tourists who want to stay on Route 66.

Smith said motels are afoundation for increased tourism.

A place to stay begins the cycle of using local facilities and spending tourism dollars in the local economy, she said.

Wong said an active motel association could grow from the few owners involved in the May 10 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour 2001.

The ETDC would lend support to such a group and would welcome input to the meetings and events.