No one loves a fast, sporty car more than me. I've often mused about strapping into a Jaguar XK Convertible or a Corvette Z06. These days, I drive the ultimate hot car: the Toyota Corolla S-type. Now before you fall over yourselves in jealousy, let me tell you the hottest thing about this vehicle it gets 36 miles to the gallon.
Sure, I daydream about the Jag, but when I pull up to the pump and can fill my tank for about $30, knowing that it'll keep me going for almost a full week, I feel like the hottest thing on the road.
It's only the start of the summer travel season and already gas prices are setting record highs across the U.S. Just days before the travel-heavy Memorial Day weekend, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.23, an all time high. Undoubtedly that price will be a fond memory by the time this issue of Hospitality Technology lands in the hands of its readers. (That price is already 37 cents higher than the national average just one month earlier.)
The issue at hand for the hospitality industry is if the ever-soaring gas prices will affect the state of travel in the U.S. Will consumers be deterred and opt to stay closer to home during the summer travel season, or perhaps not travel at all? According to AAA, 38.3 million Americans were expected to travel 50 miles from home or more during the Memorial Day holiday, a 1.7 percent increase over last year. While the Association does not expect gas prices to deter travelers, it does predict that consumers will opt for more affordable hotels and restaurants to compensate for the strain on their budgets. But alas for travelers, hotel rates are on the rise, charging an average of $174 per night at AAA 3 Diamond hotels (representing the mid-scale market), up 13 percent over last year.
This may open doors for economy, limited and even self-service properties to grab a larger portion of travelers' dollars from their more luxurious counterparts. Perhaps adding complimentary amenities just for the season -- such as free in-room HSIA can up their appeal even more. Any property offering Jaguar test drives will certainly have my booking.