SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Coalition of Travel
Organizations rebuffed the state division of tourism's offer to
modify its controversial hotel booking system and said it will
continue to oppose the program.
The coalition, ASTA and ARTA met with John Poimiroo, state
director of tourism, to discuss what they see as the state
competing with agents for commissionable hotel reservations. Under
the program, which was unveiled in late November, bookings are made
through a private firm that takes calls from consumers who dial the
state's toll-free phone number or consult its Web page.
Coranne Gibson, CCTO president and vice president of Brickroad
Travel, of Orange, Calif., said that Poimiroo offered to add to the
state's Web site a statement that hotel bookings also are available
through travel agents. And he suggested the creation of an agent
advisory board to allow agents input to ongoing and future division
of tourism projects. Neither of the offers satisfied the CCTO,
which wants the state agency to kill the reservations program,
Linda High, ASTA's consumer affairs director, traveled to
Sacramento for the meeting. An ASTA spokesman said the meeting left
ASTA "hopeful that we can negotiate a solution." An ARTA spokesman
called the meeting "a great first step, but it did not offer a
solution to the problem. We still believe that this is unfair
competition." Poimiroo was unavailable for comment.
Under the contract with BASS Tickets and WorldRes, when
consumers book hotel rooms through the services, the state agency
receives a 1.5% cut of the commission.
The coalition, which represents two ASTA chapters in the state
and other industry organizations, delivered nearly 450 letters of
protest over the program from California agents to California Gov.