Oil from the BP spill has now washed ashore on the beaches of every Gulf Coast state. And as could be expected, beachfront hotels this summer have been quick to put forth promotions in an attempt to mitigate the damage.
Various hotels are now offering “no oil” deals that make promises such as free roomnights or free cancellation if oil appears on the hotel’s property.
• Read “Hilton offers oil spill money-back guarantee.”
I understand the marketing strategy here. This oil spill happened at perhaps the worst possible time: the lead-up to the ever-busy summer travel season. So far, hotels along the Gulf have shown resiliency thanks to the presence of clean-up workers staying at the hotels, but there’s no telling how long that is likely to last.
According to STR data, Gulf Coast hotels showed an occupancy increase of 4.9 percent to 66.6 percent for the week ending 26 June. Revenue per available room also increased by 2.6 percent to 69 percent, but average daily rate fell by 2.2 percent to US$103.54.
• Read “Gulf hotel data shows resiliency, but trouble looms.”
So the hotel deals are an attempt to bring in tourists along with the oil clean-up workers. But let me put on my consumer hat. As a tourist, I have my pick of where to use my precious vacation days. Am I going to travel to a region knowing full well I might be greeted by oil-blackened beaches?
Will a promotion that allows me to stay at the property for free (but likely limits my swimming to the hotel pool) if oil tarnishes my family vacation change my mind?
Sorry, but no. The beaches in California are just as nice.
At the end of the day, the only factor that is going to influence my decision to visit a beachfront Gulf Coast hotel is if the “no oil” guarantee actually guarantees that there is zero chance of oil ruining my stay. The only way that will happen is if BP somehow manages to cut off the oil flow.
And at the rate BP is going, it sure looks like it is going to be a long, long time before that is accomplished.