Hoopfest marks the celebration of Ace's first year of service to Spokane
(June 23, 2015) Since the launch of Visit Spokane's little van, Ace, a year ago, it has proven to be an invaluable resource for visitors. The mobile visitor information center, operated by Melissa Skomer-Kafton, Visitor Engagement Specialist at Visit Spokane, has ventured throughout the region -- helping nearly 5,000 people with suggestions ranging from where to eat and what to see, to where you can pan for gold.
Melissa and Ace have attended nearly 50 events since 2014 and have parked in populated spots across Spokane, ranging from the Spokane Valley Mall to the Medical Lake Waterfront.
Ace discovered first hand (first tire?) that this region is quite the active community. Melissa and Ace have helped attendees who were in town for: volleyball, basketball, football, running (marathon and smaller), golf, cycling, hammer-throwing, wrestling, skiing, baseball, boxing, and BBQing.
"One of the busiest days I had was spent in the Convention Center breezeway during the KuroNekoCon Anime Convention, the Color Run and Job's Daughters registration," said Melissa. "Events like these have brought an array of people to the Spokane community, and it is so helpful we can drive right to the events and deliver tons of information. In a year we have handed out thousands of visitor guides and maps."
Over the past year, Ace and Melissa have weathered 100-degree days (hottest day: 108-degrees at last year's Cheney Jubilee), been to just about every park in the region and even required one jump start at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
"I get to have super fun interactions with people from all over the world. I met three guys who were riding their bikes from Maine to the Pacific Coast," said Melissa. "The men needed help booking three RVs for the weekend for their wives (their support crew), and I was able to help them with that as well as recommend some restaurants and get them set up at a bike shop. They were so thankful for the help that one of them wrote about me in his blog."
Conversations she has had tend to bring up funny topics such as, "where to buy marijuana, where the nearest strip club is, how to climb the clock tower, and even where the nudist resort is (Spokane does not have one.)," said Melissa. "A guy even wanted to know if he could take his RV on the North Cascades Highway because he did not think that many highways in Washington were paved."
Ace can be found cruising all over Spokane, but you can follow its schedule easily on Twitter at @VisitSpokaneACE. Ace's next big event will be during its first birthday, when Ace is once again positioned to help the thousands of people in town for Hoopfest, June 27-28.
"Ace has been a great addition to the Spokane region this past year and we anticipate another great year ahead of helping people find out all the great things going on in our community," said Cheryl Kilday, Visit Spokane President & CEO.
More information about Ace and its whereabouts can be found here.
About Visit Spokane
Visit Spokane generates economic growth for Spokane County by successfully marketing the Spokane region as a preferred destination for conventions and leisure travelers from around the world. Visitors to Spokane County spent an estimated $893 million in 2014, providing jobs for nearly 10,000 residents in the region and generating $88.6 million in non-resident tax dollars collected in Spokane County.*
*Figures provided by Dean Runyan Associates report for the year ending 2014.