INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP took its
first action to enforce an online distribution standard unveiled in
April, vowing to cease selling all inventory, whether merchant or
agency, through Expedia and sister company Hotels.com in 30 to 90
days. At the same time, InterContinental, which has
InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express among the
brands in its portfolio, embraced and certified Travelocity as an
online agency whose business practices mesh with its core values.
The hotel chain gets about 2% of its room revenue from online
distributors and about half of that, about $100 million annually,
comes from Expedia and Hotels.com. Until now, InterContinental had
an umbrella contract with Expedia, and InterContinental franchisees
were free to negotiate their own merchant agreements with the
online agency. That kind of freelancing led to widespread
discounting and a lack of pricing control for InterContinental. The
chain intends to kill these side agreements.
INTERCONTINENTAL CRITICIZED EXPEDIA for
bundling service fees and taxes [a practice that disguises the
distributors margins]; designating properties as sold out when only
Expedias wholesale inventory is depleted and properties can still
be booked through InterContinental; costly, manual and inefficient
processes for availability, reservations and settlement.
InterContinental said Travelocity exhibited much more flexibility
and its business practices mesh well with the chains core values.
As InterContinental continues to evaluate third-party Web
distributors, it also certified Priceline and said the hotel chain
will also continue selling through Hotwire and Mark Travel Web
SABRE, as expected, introduced its Hotel
Spotlight program, which enables hotels to pay for placement at or near the top of hotel availability
displays. In addition, participating hotels -- and they are not
identified as advertisers at this stage -- pledge to make available
to Sabre all rates, including Internet rates. Launch partners
include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
and Melrose Hotels, Sabre said. More than 1,000 properties,
including several independents, are available in Hotel Spotlight.
In the future, Sabre added, travel agents will be able identify and
search for Hotel Spotlight participants so agents can book their
TQ3NAVIGANT will use a single back-office
system, Amadeus Global MAX, for all its business divisions.
TQ3Navigant began using the Amadeus product for some business units
five years ago. One reason for the consolidation is TQ3Navigants
acquisition of SatoTravel, with its large government and U.S. Armed
Services business and their requirements for fast, accurate,
flexible and detailed reporting, TQ3 Navigant said. Global MAX is
robust and meets our expectations for handling large-scale
enterprise applications, TQ3Navigant chief accounting officer John
Coffman said in a statement. With our recent acquisition of
SatoTravel, we expect to realize costs savings and productivity
improvements by implementing Global MAX for that divisions
operations. Global MAX handles large transaction volumes and its
functions include quality control, credit card reconciliation,
reporting, customer statements and commission tracking.
TRAVELOCITY will pay some $33 million to
acquire most of the 50% of Travelocity Europe, a joint venture with
Otto Freizeit und Turistik (OFT), that Travelocity didnt already
own. This includes operations in the U.K., France, Norway, Sweden,
Denmark and the sole rights between the partners to new operations
in any other European country, except Germany. The acquisition,
which is subject to regulatory approvals, does not impact the
Travelocity/OFT joint venture in Germany, which takes in
Travelchannel.de, Travelocity.de, Travel Overland and Flug.de. With
the transaction, Travelocity plans to expand its dynamic packaging
and merchant hotel programs across its European businesses.
Travelocity Europes businesses include Travelocity.co.uk in the
U.K.; Resfeber.se and Box Office in Sweden; Rejsefeber.dk and Arte
Udland in Denmark; Reisefeber.no and Ticket Service in Norway; and
Boomerang in France.
EXPRESS BUSINESS TRAVEL said the first half of the year
has been pretty good, bringing its newly named corporate travel
unit some $1 billion in new business. Among Amexs new clients are
CUNA Mutual Group (U.S.); EADS (Europe), KPMG (Brazil), Real
Foundations (U.S.), Ridley (Australia), Sara Lee DE (Europe) and
Tuesday Morning (U.S.). Without providing specifics, Amex said it
continues to best online travel agencies in the battle for new
contracts, picking up 50 new clients.