BY KRISTIN O'MEARA
Reed Travel Features
NEW YORK -- Gogo Worldwide Vacations took the wraps off its
long-awaited Intimate Hotels of the Caribbean brochure, which
promotes small hotels in the region as well as in the Bahamas,
Bermuda and Belize.
Michelle Kassner, senior vice president of marketing for Gogo,
said the program will help agents and travelers locate hotels with
an "intimate ambience" with its "comprehensive product line" of
properties, most of which have 75 rooms or fewer.
The program, which expanded since it was announced in July 1996,
includes 170 properties in 28 destinations.
The small-hotels product, Kassner said, will enable Gogo to
reach clients who usually book directly through the property,
circumventing both agent and wholesaler.
The program also will enable these clients to have access to the
company's negotiated rates with American Air-
The program offers a range of properties rated in six
categories, from tourist to luxury class.
Although the small hotels product was announced in July last
year, the company experienced several challenges in developing the
program, Kassner said, which delayed the product's unveiling.
Kassner said that a full 38% of the participating properties are
new to working with Gogo.
Small hotels, she said, "are not used to working with
wholesalers," and obtaining room allotments from them is "more
difficult and challenging" than with larger hotels.
Kassner said Gogo's 12-person Caribbean staff conducted site
inspections at many of the participating properties to ensure that
quality standards are met.
At a press conference held at the headquarters of the Caribbean
Tourism Organization (CTO), Kassner said the program would be
promoted by Gogo and CTO.
Gogo intends to conduct agent education programs on the product
at its annual mega-fams to Hawaii and Jamaica, each of which is
attended by some 800 retailers.
Advertising of the program will be conducted in both the trade
and the consumer press, she said.
In addition, Kassner said, Gogo will promote the Intimate Hotels
program on its as-yet-to-be-unveiled Web site, which is in
development and should be operating for the winter season.
The site will offer a hyperlink to CTO's Web site.
It will not have direct-booking capability, but consumers who
wish to book a trip will be directed to retailers in or near their
ZIP code, she said.
CTO director Michael Youngman called the program "the
culmination of several years of work" in cooperation with Gogo,
adding that CTO would promote the program at trade shows such as
the upcoming Caribbean Travel Conference in Aruba.