'Tanks-A-Lot' and other ploys to ease pump woes
As the summer driving season gets under way on Memorial Day weekend, hotels, retailers, and even churches are running promotions to help consumers with high gasoline prices.
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Marketing departments are finding all sorts of names for the promotions. In the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, the French Manor calls it the "Tanks-A-Lot" package. In San Diego, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort calls it "Money for Miles."Skip to next paragraph
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Even small bed-and-breakfasts see a need to entice travelers. At Casa de Angeles in Tucson, Ariz., Jim and Karen Liessmann are offering 20 percent off for a minimum three-night stay at their desert home. "I could tell on May 1 we needed to do something to encourage business. People have tightened up," Mr. Liessmann says.
It's not just the travel business giving drivers a break. A week ago, Chrysler Corp. started its gasoline offer, which is set to go through July 7. Chrysler will give customers a card linked to a Visa or MasterCard, which will adjust charges to account for the $2.99-a-gallon offer. Chrysler will honor the offer for up to 500 gallons per customer per year, equal to about 12,000 miles of driving. The card can be used for any automobile owned by the customer – not just the newly purchased vehicle.
Chrysler, which is using sophisticated hedging of prices on the futures market, says the promotion is pulling in potential buyers. Sales leads are up 25 percent, and showroom traffic rose as much as 20 percent last weekend, when compared with the weekend before, said Jim Press, president of Chrysler, in a press conference Monday.
"It has clearly resonated with the needs and concerns of our customers," he said.
Some companies are plugging gas cards for Father's Day or as graduation gifts. One of those, RoadCare Plus, which offers vehicle assistance, is offering $40 of free gasoline to individuals who sign up for a $59.95 membership.
One church in Richmond, Va., saw the public's need for a gasoline price break as an opportunity to evangelize. Earlier this month, Bishop Daniel Robertson Jr. of the Mt. Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries decided to give away $10,000 in gasoline and gas cards. Some went to needy organizations, such as a children's hospital. But some fuel was simply given to people who lined up outside the pumps at a Kroger supermarket.
"People were coming out of their houses in their Pj's and with no shoes on to get to the gas station," recalls Tony Whittingham, an elder at the church.
While a mile-long procession of vehicles waited for a turn at the pump, members of the church used the opportunity to spread the message. "When they got there, we talked to them about what Christ can do in your life: It was soft evangelism."