Travel Weekly's Florida E-Letter: June 26, 2002

THIRTEEN THRIFTY CAR RENTAL locations in South Florida agreed to pay 12% base commissions on leisure rentals of Chrysler's PT Cruiser models through Sept. 30. The vehicle can be rented at those sites for $39.99 daily. The participating locations are: Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale Airport, Fort Pierce, Key Largo, Key West, Miami Airport, Miami downtown, Miami Beach (South Beach), Plantation, Stuart, Sunny Isles, West Palm Beach Airport, and Vero Beach. At other U.S. Thrifty locations, the cost of the car varies and the commission is 10%, a Thrifty spokesman said. To assure the 12% commission, agents should mention code PC88EE when booking by phone, the GDS or through Thrifty's Web site,

• The 54-room Chesterfield Hotel, Palm Beach, offers a one-night Bed and Breakfast plan through Sept. 30, priced at $99 single or double, plus tax and tips. It covers a room, continental breakfast and a 15% discount on food, beverage or gift shop purchases. For information, call (800) 243-7871 or check the Web site
• The 254-room Ramada Miami Beach Inn, which introduced a 15% commission policy last Dec. 1, is extending it indefinitely, according to Bernard Resnick, its management consultant, who reported that agent reservations were up by 18% for the six months ended May 31 vs. the same period last year. (Agents generate about 50% of the hotel's guests.) He also attributed the higher agent volume to value-added offers of a free Alamo subcompact, a courtesy South Beach limo transfer for dining and a free Princesa casino cruise. For information, call (800) 327-8163.

• Delta Vacations offers pay of up to 14% plus the fourth or seventh night free on fly-drive packages using selected Florida west coast hotels. Among the fourth-night-free deals is a package to the Holiday Inn, Naples, priced from $399 per person, double, including hotel tax, roundtrip air from Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Wichita, Kan.; Newark; and Milwaukee, as well as an Alamo car. The plan must be booked by June 30 for travel Aug. 26 to Oct. 4. For information, call (800) 221-6666 or check the Web site
• Southwest Airlines Vacations (operated by Mark Travel Corp.) starting July 1 will offer a line of packages to Walt Disney World using Disney on-site hotels. Three-night Disney Fall Fantasy packages start at $469 per person, double, for travel Sept. 3 to 29, out of Nashville, covering air fare, an All-Star Resorts room, Ultimate Park Hopper ticket and on-site traveler assistance. Rapid rewards members will get a double credit. For information, call (800) 423-5683 or check the Web site

VISIT FLORIDA'S board of directors voted to give incumbent Tampa ad agency Fahlgren-Benito a one-year extension of its contract to handle the state's $11 million advertising account, although a task force had recommended Orlando-based Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown get the assignment. The extension goes into effect July 1.

RAIN CHECK... Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will provide a replacement day free should a visitor complain that rain dampened the experience. Under the park's new rain guarantee policy, the visitor must request a replacement day voucher, which will include a photo for future identification. The voucher must be used within seven days of the rainy day visit.

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