Travel Weekly's Technology E-Letter: April 30, 2003

ORBITZ FOR BUSINESS introduced an executive travel service in which Orbitz processes upgrade requests, priority wait listings and preferred seating requests for travelers. Expedia Corporate Travel recently launched an executive travel service as well. Also available to Orbitz for Business customers is an exception-code feature that recommends lower-priced flight or car options to travelers, and requires them to enter a reason why they are not buying the lower-priced option. Exception codes can be customized. For example, fare parameters may apply only to certain city pairs. A fare and rate filtering tool, which displays only the rates of preferred suppliers to travelers when those rates can be applied, will be available before the end of the second quarter, said Orbitz. This feature will be available for air, car and hotel. Also by the close of second quarter, Orbitz said it plans to launch a "flash report" service that allows travel managers to retrieve real-time data on demand.

TRX said 10 travel agencies have agreed to distribute the company's re-designed corporate booking tool, RESX. Navigant Int'l, WorldTravel BTI, Adelman Travel Group, Garber Travel and Travizon--all agencies in Travel Weekly's Top 50--are among the agencies that signed distribution agreements. RESX, which launched earlier this year, composes a complete itinerary for business travelers instead of requiring travelers to shop for each part of the trip separately.

HIGHWIRE, the Cendant division that provides an Internet self-booking tool for corporations, won the business of one very high-profile company - Nike. Nike was one of the early adopters of a self-booking tool, choosing GetThere in the late 1990s. In many company statements, GetThere touted Nike as one of its blue-chip clients. Nike director of travel Ted Cullen did not return a phone call seeking comment on the supplier switch, but Travel Weekly has learned that Nike probably received a "sweet" pricing deal that GetThere wasn't willing to match.

CENDANT'S LODGING.COM and Carlson Hotels Worldwide signed an agreement giving Lodging.com customers expanded access to discounted and net rates at more than 860 Carlson brand properties, including Regent Int'l, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Park Plaza, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson and Park Inn hotels. "Our new partnership with Lodging.com offers our hotels participating in the NetRate Program a simple, cost-effective online distribution channel," said Christine Brosnahan, vp-reservations and distribution services, Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "Being part of Lodging.com's flexible and hotel-friendly program will increase room night productivity and provide a viable option for our hotels to sell rooms online." The deal will provide Lodging.com affiliates, including CheapTickets.com, with access to Carlson hotels.

TRAVELWEB, the Internet distributor of merchant hotel rooms owned by five major chains and Pegasus, is not afraid to toot its own horn by declaring itself an innovator. "Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, Pegasus Solutions and Starwood knew what they were doing when they founded Travelweb," the company said. "It is gratifying to see established online distributors following Travelweb's lead by offering suppliers and customers a more-automated merchant model."

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