National Car Rental is pushing its latest version of "don't stand in line when you pick up your car" service.
For years National had a service called Emerald Isle, where customers would provide car-renting preferences and credit card information in advance and be able to skirt long lines at rental counters.
It's new program is called QuickRent. Similar to its predecessor and "clubs" of the other major renters, National's new program has a unique feature. You get to pick the car you want from those on the lot and drive off. Of course, the car has to be in the class of vehicle you have agreed to rent.
Just as with other companies' promotions, there is a slew of restrictions. The company bills its new service as being the quickest in the industry. For more, check out nationalcar.com on the Internet.
VISITING TAMPA? DON'T FORGET ST. PETE
Tampa's neighbor St. Petersburg, Fla., is reminding travelers they don't call it the "Tampa-St. Pete" area for nothing. Sometimes the city -- on the other side of the bay from Tampa connected by the I-275 bridge -- gets lost in the shuffle. There's a lot to see and do in St. Pete, though.
One of the city's best-kept secrets is the Florida Holocaust Museum. Travel writer Carol Muse Evans, writing for travellady.com, says the museum and education center are in the city's downtown sector, offer permanent and traveling exhibits, and make up the fourth-largest Holocaust-themed archive in the United States.
Another St. Pete surprise is the Salvador Dali Museum, billed as one of the city's biggest cultural attractions. Ironically, two friends of Dali who had many of his paintings were anxious St. Pete be the site for the collection. Initially the city was not hot to the idea, but came around in 1982 and now it's a major drawing card in the city.
For more, go to stpete.com in cyberspace.
ACCOR HOTELS ON BROADBAND BANDWAGON
As more American travelers demand better accommodations in other countries, one hotelier is increasing its Internet connectivity. Accor hotels, possibly known best in this country as the new parent company of Motel 6, is teaming with France's telephone company to provide in-room wireless Internet services.
Accor says about 50 hotels will be outfitted with new, Wi-Fi "Hotspot" systems by the end of June. Ten times that many could have the service installed by the end of the year.
The service will allow quick access to the Internet and to e-mail using pre-paid cards available at the hotel front desks.
Here in the States Accor continues to enlarge the low-end Motel 6 chain, adding two more motels in the coming weeks. The facilities soon to be "leaving the lights on" are in Carbondale, Ill., (48 rooms) and Memphis (32 rooms).
The chain is available online at motel6.com and on the phone at (800) 4-MOTEL-6.
CARNIVAL OFFERING DEALS ON COASTAL CRUISES
Through the last-minute travel broker 11thhourvacations.com, Carnival is offering some super deals on summer cruises along the New England coast.
The ship being used will be the Oceanic Hall, boasting a nine-story main atrium, the Seven Seas Bar, soaring glass elevators and a sky dome with Tiffany-style lamps.
The five-night cruises depart from New York City and include stops in New England and along the Canadian coast.
Prices start as low as $499 per person. That's for the departure set for June 23, a Monday. Later in the season the price peaks at $629 for a July 7 departure, then back to $549 for later trips.
Of course, everything on board is included. Port charges also are included.