Official: Jewels campaign has been a gem

NEW YORK -- Now in its third year, the Jewels of Britain marketing program is catching on, according to Julian Younger, project manager of the program and director of strategic alliances USA for the British Tourist Authority. Launched in 1997, the Jewels of Britain program encompasses 250 hotels and restaurants in London and throughout the countryside of Great Britain.

Surveys of consumers who have planned itineraries using the Jewels of Britain guide revealed positive results, said Younger, who added that almost 400,000 copies of this detailed, four-color book have been distributed to retailers and consumers throughout the U.S.

The survey also indicated that travelers who tied their vacations to the Jewels of Britain properties plan trips further out than their non-Jewels counterparts and stay at their destination longer. Not only do they spend more time in Britain, but Jewels clients tend to spend two or more nights at each location. These findings are great news for both suppliers and retailers, Younger said.

The Jewels program was created in order to not only promote high-end establishments, said Younger, but to "promote those that offer the best quality and value." As a result, properties such as London's Dorchester; Chewton Glen in Hampshire, England, and Llangoed Hall in Brecon, Wales, stand along side lesser-known gems like New Hall Country House Hotel, located just outside Birmingham, and Cromlix House, near Dunblane, Scotland.

The BTA and its hotel partners decided that "we needed to let the upscale market in the U.S. know that the quality of hotels and restaurants found in London can also be found around the country," said Younger.

Establishments are invited to become part of the program only if they meet at least one of four criteria: The Automobile Association' Red Star; the Royal Automobile Club's Blue Ribbon; the Michelin Red Tower, or the National Tourist Board's Crown Grading De Luxe. Younger pointed out that the BTA does not have a say in any of these programs, which adds credibility to the Jewel designation.

Once chosen, the properties pay a nominal fee and are then featured in the Jewels of Britain guide. The guide includes photos of properties plus information on facilities and rates. Although most of the 115 properties in the guide do guarantee agent commission at 10%, a few of the smaller ones do not pay at all, Younger said. Hotels in the guide that are bookable through travel agents and do pay commissions carry a symbol containing the letter "T."

The publication date of the 1999 Jewels of Britain was delayed until the fall in order to create a millennium book. Copies of the 1998 guide are available through the BTA in New York at (800) 462-2748.

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