Nationwide RV rental company Cruise America believes business executives should consider travel by RV as an alternative to commercial airline flights during the current period of crisis.

The Mesa, Ariz.-based company saw an increase in demand from business travelers after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, according to Bob Caldarone, director of sales and marketing.

“During the first few days following the disaster, we had a lot of business travelers doing three-night rentals,” Caldarone said. “A lot of people were doing continuous driving to get where they needed to go.”

Consequently, Cruise America announced today (Sept. 19) the unveiling of a special promotion that lets business travelers pay to rent an RV for three nights even though they can use the RV for up to six nights.

“There’s more than enough time for a group to drive to a business destination in comfort, attend meetings or a convention and return home safely without the hassle of airports,” Caldarone said.

Cruise America’s fleet is comprised primarily of Class C motorhomes, which can accommodate up to seven people. Since most motorhomes are equipped with generators, business travelers could sit at the dinette and work using a laptop that’s plugged into an electric outlet. Or they could catch up on sleep in the rear bedroom for prepare food in the kitchen.

Caldarone said the surge in business clientele caused some imbalances in Cruise America’s inventory as RVs were dropped-off at destinations not heavily served by the rental firm, which operates from company- and franchisee-owned locations.

“We had a bunch going into the Northeast,” Caldarone said. “We also had a huge amount of travelers to the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area because the Midway (Airport) hub in Chicago was shut down. So we had to raise fees going in, and eliminated fees going out.”

Caldarone added that while business travelers gave Cruise America an increase in volume, the company saw a falloff in its standard vacation rental business.

“The bad news is that customers who usually rent our RVs to go to racing events or football games over the weekend fell off considerably,” he said.

Caldarone added that because the fly-and-drive season is over, he only had a few customers stranded at Cruise America depots last week while they waited for the planes to fly again.

Over the long-term, Caldarone said he expects RV vaction rental activity to be strong, especially in the weekend rental category.

“We will probably see people who want to stay close to home, rather than take long, extended vacations that may involve flying. People feel safer in campgrounds,” Caldarone said.