The news this week has been all about the ramp-up in gasoline prices. In most locations, per-gallon prices are above $2.75 and quickly heading toward $3. I saw a TV news report this morning showing a station in New York City where the price of premium gas is already above $4 a gallon. An isolated instance, to be sure, but it may portend the near future.
Of course, the key concern for the hotel industry is how the latest rise in fuel costs will affect the summer tourism season. Last year, marketing guru Peter Yesawich did research showing that consumer driving patterns wouldn't change significantly until gas prices topped $3.50. That's a mark some analysts believe we'll see by the unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day.
The question remains: Will Americans say the hell with gas prices and continue to travel like nomads this summer, or will the economic punch of $60 fill-ups be enough to stunt the current run of prosperity in the U.S. travel business? I'm still betting on the former scenario, as consumers have proven over and over that you can't mess with their vacations.
Keep your finger crossed that I'm correct.