The agreement by the California Division of Tourism to remove
itself from a lodging reservations operation in competition with
agencies is a reasonable one that will broaden choices for
consumers looking for a hotel room in the state.
The compromise is testimony to those who have worked hard to
resolve the flap that began months ago when the division said it
was contracting with two private res services to convert inquiries
on its national toll-free hot line and Web site into bookings.
Under the old plan, the state would have received commissions
from the two res centers, Bass Tickets and WorldRes, in exchange
for bookings -- in effect competing with agencies. That proposal
was suspended earlier this year after protests from the California
Coalition of Travel Organizations (CCTO).
The res center now will be operated by a private industry
partnership rather than by the Division of Tourism. The partners
will be the California Travel Industry Association, the California
Hotel and Motel Association and the two res centers. No commissions
will be paid to the state.
Consumers who call the state's 800 number will be given the
choice of connecting to a Bass res agent or a yet-to-be determined
travel agent referral service. Agents also will be offered the
opportunity to list their agencies on WorldRes' site.
The CCTO still doesn't like the plan, developed in part by ARTA,
because it will give Bass, which is the fulfillment house for
tourism promotional materials, the opportunity to talk to the
A travel agency advisory council will seek to develop links and
telephone referrals. Perhaps reports on Web hits and phone calls
could help ensure the fairness and efficacy of the agreement.
The compromise gives agents an opportunity to boost their hotel
bookings. It stands to make agents more aware of promoting hotels
and of the prospects of doing more business within their own
Nothing prevents agents from trying to capture that business in
the first place. They are free to promote their knowledge of, and
ability to book, the state's hotels and attractions.