Hotel Online  Special Report


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Le Méridien Adopts VFM's Vscape
for Photo & Rich Media Distribution

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TORONTO, CANADA, July 25, 2005 -Le Méridien has chosen VFM's Vscape for online distribution of all its still images and rich media as well as storage and management for all online media. Providing one simple point of contact, Vscape will enable Le Méridien to distribute its content for more than 130 properties worldwide to VFM's extensive network consisting of thousands of travel sites, search engines and, shortly, GDS's.

"Vscape will give Le Méridien the kind of visibility we need on the major travel sites and search engines," says Andrew Pozniak, Director of E-Commerce Worldwide for Le Méridien. "Our hotels have made a significant investment in their photography and there's now a great opportunity to make it work far harder across the Internet.  Additionally, we're partnering with VFM to adapt existing videos for distribution that will communicate even better to customers the distinct, upscale experience Le Méridien offers."

Le Méridien's selection of Vscape follows decisions by other major brands who have recently partnered with VFM to improve distribution and develop rich media on a large brand scale. In June, Best Western Inc.  announced its partnership with VFM to produce virtual tours for more than 2,400 properties across North America and distribute images for all these properties. Earlier this month, Sol Melia announced the decision to have VFM edit and distribute videos for select properties.

Indeed, a growing number of hotel brands are embracing the importance of having rich media distributed across the electronic channel. As consumers become reliant on the Internet to shop for travel, hotels are seeing that better marketing in the electronic space is essential to compete for the online travel consumer - even on third-party sites.

Of particular note to hotels are new statistics from PhoCusWright's recent Travel Trends Survey showing that 4 out of every 10 online consumers are shopping at online travel agencies but buying directly from suppliers. In this way, online travel agencies are becoming as much a marketing vehicle for hotel companies as they are distribution or transaction channels. A report from Forrester on travel trends created for the HEDNA Barcelona conference in May indicates that "search today is used more for marketing than distribution."

And according to a new study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, rich media spending will "climb from $36.7 billion 2005 to $54.2 billion in 2009." Quoted in AdAge, Peter Petrusky, PricewaterhouseCooper's Director of Advisory Services who provided expertise on the study's internet section explained, "People now expect speed and rich media online."

"We want to reach as many of our target customers as possible with the best online marketing tools," explains Pozniak. "A hotel group wouldn't create TV ads using still images. In the same way, it makes sense to communicate the Le Méridien experience to our customers online with the most influential and emotional marketing that the Internet enables. With the spread of broadband, that's rich media."

Vscape is currently available to hotels at no charge. This includes no-cost distribution of up to 20 still images per property as well as complete selective control over the electronic channel enabling hotels to determine exactly where their media appears online.

In addition to improved still image and rich media distribution, Vscape also includes the web-based Online Media Manager - a tool that enables hotels to upload, store, update, manage, categorize, search, distribute and track the usage of all their digital assets and rich media - from still images, 360s and videos to logos and PDF brochures. The sophisticated, intuitive interface has a number of easy-to-use tools that enable hotels to efficiently browse, add and update all media through a single access point.

Inquiries about Vscape can be made to VFM Interactive toll-free at 1-877-593-6634.

About Le Méridien
London-based Le Méridien is a global hotel group with a portfolio of more than 130 luxury and upscale hotels in 56 countries worldwide. The majority of its properties are located in the world's top cities and resorts throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.  The company also enjoys a strategic alliance with JAL-owned Nikko Hotels, providing loyal guests access to an additional 46 properties around the world.  In the 2005 Luxury Brand Status Index survey Le Méridien was recognised as one of the top 15 luxury hotel brands.

About VFM Interactive
VFM Interactive is the leading distributor and producer of rich media content for the lodging and travel industry. Operating the largest and fastest-growing distribution network, VFM enables hotels to maximize their presence online using the power of rich media on more than 5,000 travel and travel-related sites where consumers are researching and purchasing travel products. In addition to sites such as Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline and TripAdvisor, VFM's distribution network also includes major search engines and will shortly include both meta-search and GDSs.  VFM also produces a variety of rich media marketing content including videos, 360° virtual tours and Flash productions. VFM's clients include over 3,000 hotels and resorts from brands and management companies such as Best Western, Choice, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Interstate, Marriott, MGM, Outrigger, Radisson, Regent, Sheraton, W, Westin, and Wyndham properties.


 
Contact:
VFM Interactive
Debra Sharp
Director of Communications
416-593-6634
debra.sharp@vfmii.com
Website: www.vfmii.com
Also See: Sol Meliá Partners with VFM to Use Videos to Market Resorts Online / July 2005
Best Western Partners with VFM Interactive in Unprecedented Rich Media Strategy / June 2005
VFM Interactive Launches Vscape® a Rich Media Distribution Solution Providing Unprecedented Control to Hotels / June 2005
After Seeing Tremendous Response to Pilot Online Videos, W Hotels Partners with VFM Interactive to Add Online Video Tours to All its Properties / March 2005
VFM Interactive releases PhotoFlicks®; Innovative Rich Media Turns Still Photographs into Audio-enhanced Slide Shows to Increase Hotel Bookings Online / November 2004
Vantis Partners with VFM Interactive to offer Hotel Clients Rich Media Solutions / October 2004
Rich Content Such as Internet Videos, Virtual Tours and Flash Presentations Significantly Impact the Buying Decision of Consumers Researching and Booking Hotels Online / December 2003
Online Rich Content Is an Important Branding Asset as Well as a Compelling Marketing Tool for Hotel Franchisees to Drive Revenues Through All Online Channels, Both Direct and Indirect / January 2004


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