Hotel Online  Special Report


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TravelHero Distinguishes Itself with Largest Database
and by Being Both Consumer and Hotelier Friendly
January 26, 2004 - TravelHero, a full service Internet travel technology company, enjoys a number of distinctions from other online travel sites.  Primary among these is the fact that, unlike all of the other major sites, TravelHero is not based solely on the information available from existing global distribution systems (GDS) such as Sabre, Worldspan, Amadeus, or Galileo.  All of the mega sites depend on a GDS provider, and the result is that they have at their disposal only a limited number of accommodations, about 50,000 worldwide.  Therefore, they have no control over quantity, and to some extent functionality and presentation.  They are limited to only the properties that reside in their rented database. 

Conversely, TravelHero contains over 126,000 properties and currently has extensive content on nearly 100% of them.  With the most complete lodging reservations system on the Internet, TravelHero can now make online or e-mail reservations for properties in 216 countries and over 21,000 cities worldwide.

Because TravelHero distinguishes itself as “hotelier friendly,” additional reservation types are also offered to hoteliers that operate in the realm of limited technology.  And because TravelHero owns and controls its own database, it can give the hoteliers direct access to the content describing their own property.  This affords the hotelier the options to add a new property or to modify existing content.  The result is both a larger database and one with current and quality content, thereby fortifying TravelHero’s position as the largest, most content-rich accommodations site on the Internet. 

The fact that TravelHero has built its hotel database from the ground up is another unique feature of the company.  Each hotel offering is based on 131 fields of information and photos that are updated on a continuing basis.  Any updates requested by the hotels directly are input immediately.

Rather than using a net rate model, the agency model is the traditional model of business on the Internet and the model practiced by TravelHero, adding to its hotel friendliness.  The online travel company acts as a travel agent and collects a 10% agency fee for hotel bookings. This model is very effective for affiliates such as Convention and Visitors Bureaus, due to the preferred relationship with hotels for distributing their inventory and consistent pricing.  And because TravelHero sells the rates that hotels load into the GDS systems, the ADR that hoteliers receive from TravelHero bookings is actually higher than the hotel’s overall ADR.

Travel Hero has developed programs that give hoteliers alternatives to the unpopular net rate model.  The Elite Partner Program, currently offered by over 300 hotels in 165 cities worldwide, is a featured hotel program that allows properties preferred placement on their respective city pages in exchange for a special discounted rate offered exclusively to TravelHero customers.  The program does not operate on a net rate model, but rather on a standard 10% commission schedule.

It requires the hotel to provide TravelHero with its best available rate for sale on the TravelHero website, which allows for more competitive rates so that it can compete with sellers of the net rate model.    While the hotel gives up some margin with the best available rate, it is much less than what it would give up in the net rate model.

Each TravelHero Elite Partner property receives a number of added benefits when it chooses to participate in the program, including priority placement at the top of the TravelHero city page, an eye-catching icon identifying the property as offering special rates, no special inventory to maintain, and inclusion in TravelHero’s Internet distribution programs.  Each partner also receives six free photos of the property, an individual listing featuring detailed property description, map and photos, and worldwide exposure to over 2.5 million TravelHero users per month.

TravelHero has developed all of its technology solutions in-house, making it a travel technology company as well as an online travel provider.  TravelHero’s site was designed from inception to be user friendly both for the hotelier and the consumer.  It is easy to navigate, uncluttered, searchable, much larger than others, and very fast.  Moreover, it expands the consumer’s choices because it provides them more properties to search and more information about each of those properties.

Added features of the site include the ability to search for a property by its direction and distance relative to a metro area city center, and the ability to search in nearby towns or suburbs.  The Destinations section allows users to search for a generic area or theme, such as major national parks, beaches, major sports events, ski resorts, and many more.  Lodging properties can be found within specified distances of these areas.

With its formidable online presence, the product line that TravelHero offers facilitates not only enhanced online transaction capabilities, but also generates incremental business.  TravelHero’s suite of products are unique applications which can operate as stand alone products but are also highly compatible with each other and add to each others value when combined effectively and marketed together.

ResHero, for example, is a unique product because it offers the hotel the option of an Internet-based link to the TravelHero website.  Many hotels that are independent or unwilling to pay for the high cost of GDS connectivity find ResHero a very attractive solution to give them a wider distribution of their inventory without any upfront capital cost or set up fees.  And there is no long-term commitment.  TravelHero is able to build the content into their website seamlessly and the hotel manages its own inventory.  There is no difference to the consumer on the TravelHero website from a GDS offering and a ResHero offering.  There are approximately 500 properties currently using ResHero.

GolfHero is a product to accommodate online booking of golf-related packages including tee times at destination golf courses and resort hotels.  The product is designed to interface with contracted resorts and at least eight golf property management systems.  The business model is based on a wide distribution of the product through affiliate relationships with airlines, hotel companies, destination sites, and hundreds of other golf and travel related affiliates.  There is not a product that is currently available which enables real time booking of tee times and resorts combined.  GolfHero has a patent pending for its application outlining 58 unique features to the technology and product offering.

TravelHero Vacations is a recently launched product featuring complete travel packages that include airfare, hotel accommodations, ground service, car rentals and optional sightseeing tours. As a technology and full service travel company, TravelHero has built the dynamic packaging tools that allow VacationHero to build customized packages plus the ability to confirm them in real-time.  VacationHero began selling packages on a limited basis in September, 2003 in Mexico and Hawaii.

EventHero provides the technology for affiliates such as Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), and other private and public organizations to power their website’s travel-related bookings. It is the leader in this industry and currently provides the technology to power the online hotel arrangements for 90 Convention and Visitors Bureaus.  Fees are earned when a visitor to the website books a hotel reservation which results in a commission to TravelHero.  Successful relationships with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) has encouraged TravelHero to further develop a technology to allow any organization that is sponsoring an event the ability to book accommodations through the EventHero product.

The business model is based on TravelHero providing its technology to DMO’s on an affiliate basis and splitting commissions earned from hotel bookings on a 50/50 revenue share basis.  The product is very successful due to the exclusive contract relationship with the DMOs and the flexible technology that the TravelHero search engine provides.

TravelHero recently acquired Amusementpark.com, which is the largest online seller of Amusement Park tickets.  Amusementpark.com is a top online destination for tickets, news, and information on amusement parks.  It offers users the convenience of online ticket purchasing to the nation’s top theme and water parks.  It also has the largest selection of park tickets online with outstanding prices.

Amusementpark.com fits well into TravelHero’s overall strategy because of the enhanced technology and content that TravelHero gives the product and because of the ability to leverage travel and vacation packaging around the amusement park experience.  The client benefits from discounted prices and the convenience of not having to wait in lines at the parks.  The company has already built a successful business on a consumer direct basis and has plans to offer the product in vacation packages, corporate employee benefit programs, and other distribution outlets.

Internet travel has grown and as a result, hotel chains are taking steps to drive more business to their own websites, eliminating the middle man. But hotelier friendly intermediaries like TravelHero, with its superior technology and business practices, remain dominant in the market due to its variety of products for hotels and DMO’s, and public acceptance of its usability.

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Contact:
Vince Heald or Ember Garrett
858-453-9600
www.travelhero.com
www.golfhero.com

Also See GolfHero Partners with EZLinks Golf, Inc. / January 2004
GolfHero Goes Live at the New Raven at Verrado / January 2004
TravelHero.com's Elite Partner Program Boosts Bookings / December 2003
Travel Hero Launches New Online Packages Designed Exclusively for Vacationers / September 2003
TravelHero Acquires amusementpark.com / August 2003
TravelHero.com Reservations Jump Over 400% / December 2001
Athens, Georgia CVB Website Selects TravelHero.com for Accommodation Database and Reservations System / Dec 2001
TravelHero.com with Database of Over 100,000 Lodging Properties Enters Internet as Full - Service Travel Site / June 1999 
IACVB Names TravelHero.com as the Default Booking Engine on IACVB’s Web site / July 2001 


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