Hotels affected by economic crisis

January 2, 2009 6:51:41 PM PST
Another victim of our tough economic times has been the travel industry. Stay-at-home vacations have become increasingly popular, and business travel is down. In and around San Francisco, hotels were heavily booked for New Year's Eve, and now they're coming up with packages to keep room occupancy levels up in 2009.

The Orchard Hotel was full during the holidays. but what about next week?

Fewer conventions, less business and leisure travel means hotels are coming up with incentives to lure customers.

"If you stay two nights, you get a third night half off. So we're trying to encourage a little bit of a longer stay," said Damien Keller from the Orchard Hotel.

There are packages that include parking, lunch or dinner certificates, city passes for the cable car and Academy of Sciences. Hotels are showing travelers aggressive and competitive rates.

"They're just shopping smarter and they're shopping hotels that give them extra values," said Keller.

The Westin St. Francis offers a lower rate for locals. People are opting to stay closer to home.

"Probably travel less, you know, because I just came back from Las Vegas. Little less travel and less driving," said Rudy Chou from Los Angeles.

"It has kind of put a damper on our spending. We haven't splurged as much as we'd like to," said Beau Dowling from Los Angeles.

Fewer international travelers are expected this year.

Joe D'Allessandro of the Visitor and Convention Bureau says lower occupancy numbers will affect the hotel tax revenue.

"It helps support the art in san Francisco when we go enjoy an arts performance or a special event in San Francisco, many times the hotel tax is used to support those," said D'Alessandro

A new survey from Travel Leaders confirms the recession is a significant factor in travel trends. good news is San Francisco is in the top 10 of domestic destinations behind places like Las Vegas, the Hawaiian Islands and Disney World.

And the Travel Leaders' survey says people are making vacation decisions at the last minute, looking for bargains.

They will find them in more than 100 fine restaurants. The bi-annual Dine About Town later this month offers special prix fixe lunches and dinners keeping prices down, and hopes for better times.