Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hotels Offer Gas Incentives to Lure Guests

USA Today: Hotels across the USA are dishing out a wide array of fuel-related discounts to keep high gas prices from dampening summer vacation plans.

The deals range from gas gift cards and free hotel nights to promotions in which travelers submit their gas receipts for reimbursement. There are also deals rewarding people who carpool or take mass transportation.

While the concept isn't new, the programs are "getting a little more sophisticated," says Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Wednesday's national average for regular gasoline was $3.81 a gallon, up about a dollar from a year ago, but less than the record $4.11 average in July 2008, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. McInerney says gas promotions are especially enticing for travelers who haven't made up their minds, making Memorial Day weekend a perfect time for them.

Guests headed to East Coast beach resorts can find gas deals in Ocean City, Md., the South Carolina resorts of Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, according to tourism officials at those places. Charlie Clark, a spokeswoman for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, says fuel incentives appeal because eight of 10 people travel to the island by auto.

At Affinia Manhattan in New York, guests who show a mass transit ticket will be eligible to get a $20 gas card in the "Take a Pass on Gas" promotion that begins in June, says general manager Steven Kipnis.

Among gas-related incentives:

•Napa Valley, Calif. At Napa Old World Inns bed and breakfast, guests who carpool will be given a two-bedroom suite for the price of a standard room through July, says innkeeper Russ Herschelmann.

•San Antonio. The Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels plan "Fuel Your Stay" in June. The deal will give guests up to a $75 credit for hotel incidentals, including food, beverage and parking expenses, based on their mileage on the way to the hotel, says Nicole Zvek, director of revenue management for the hotels. Guests must show a copy of a gas receipt, and there is a two-night minimum.

•Myrtle Beach, S.C. Starting June 18, guests renting condos at the Barefoot Resort will be eligible for a $50 gas card and a free night if they book seven-night stays with a Saturday check-in, says Karla Faircloth, operations manager.

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