Technology Software launches aid smaller hotel chains By Dennis Schaal / July 02, 2007 Share 1 -- Independent hotels and small- and midsize chains are increasingly within reach of technology that will enable them to establish direct communications links with major online travel agencies, just as the major chains did a couple of years ago. For example, Expedia on June 25 revealed that it had launched Expedia QuickConnect, a pared-down method for independents and smaller chains to connect their property management and central reservation systems to the online agency.The benefit, according to Expedia, is that properties can manage room availability faster and more accurately, enhance revenue management and decrease costs by obviating the need to input reservations manually from faxes.Expedia stated that QuickConnect is "less complex" than prior solutions in that it involves less customization.Expedia said hotel partners that are part of the online agency's merchant program can access QuickConnect, an application programming interface, or API, that is replete with sample code and searchable specifications for easier set-ups.Among the companies using QuickConnect are Parc Fifty Five in San Francisco and RSI International Systems, which offers RoomKey, a property management system.Meanwhile, vacation-lodging distributor LeisureLink reported this week that several of its customers, including Barefoot Vacations, have tied their property management systems into major travel Web sites (Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz) and GDSs (Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan) through LeisureLink and Instant Software."The competitive advantage will swing decisively in favor of boutique vacation-lodging companies," LeisureLink stated, adding that major chains would lose their "monopoly" on advanced communications interfaces with major distributors.LeisureLink, based in Pasadena, Calif., said vacation-rental, condo and timeshare properties can tie their property management systems into the LeisureLink platform via a new product, RezDirect, which connects to an Instant Software's ISILink.Instant Software, a Colorado vendor of vacation management solutions, then facilitates the properties' interfaces and bookings with major travel Web sites and GDSs, LeisureLink said.RezDirect enhances efficiencies for properties because they can reduce reliance on extranets to feed data about pricing and availability into the LeisureLink platform, LeisureLink said. Extranets are private, Web-based networks that companies establish to communicate with their customers."This marks the death of the extranet," Maggie Carnes, manager of Barefoot Vacations, said in a prepared statement. "We don't want to manage extranets anymore, and now we don't have to. I want to spend my time taking care of our guests and not doing data entry."To contact reporter Dennis Schaal, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.