ATHENS, GA -- The winner of the University of Georgia’s 2020 Summer Design Sprint Competition, GiftAStay is a hub for hotel-gifting in Athens, Ga. Terry College of Business Marketing students Abigail Snyder and Thomas McMullen began the idea with hopes of restoring local and regional travel to the city they love. 

The students have since partnered with the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring GiftAStay to life as a holiday campaign displaying local hotel gift packages.

“The real challenge facing our hotels is not their ability to house guests safely, but that those guests are hesitant to step through the lobby doors in the first place,” said McMullen.

Snyder explained, “we started this process looking for new reasons to travel and realized that marketing hotel stays as a gift creates value for both local hotels and gift-givers.” By creating experiential gift packages at local hotels, GiftAStay hopes to aid a pandemic-stricken hospitality industry through "the gift of destination." 

Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau Marketing Director, Katie Williams, has worked with Snyder to create a GiftAStay campaign landing page on Site visitors can browse hotel gift certificates for partners, coworkers, and relatives who need a peaceful retreat or a safe place for holiday visiting.

“I think the pandemic has made us appreciate a restful getaway more than ever, and our local hotels are equipped to provide that experience for their guests. We’re imagining a future where people view staying at a hotel like visiting a salon – a routine, luxury experience to give yourself and others,” Snyder said.

Snyder and McMullen hope to push GiftAStay even further after the holiday campaign, building on community connections in the Athens hospitality industry to create a sustainable platform for the startup.

“One day, we would love to see GiftAStay grow beyond a holiday campaign. The Athens hospitality industry will certainly still need guests, and people will always need time away. It’s a complex problem that we believe our idea is positioned perfectly to solve,” said the team.

The GiftAStay holiday campaign launched today on the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau website and will last through the end of December. Go to to learn more.