VIP International Corporation, one of the world’s largest reservation service providers through global distribution systems and the Internet, purchased the assets of UK-based HotelWorld Global from Associated Newspapers Group. With the purchase, VIP International increases its global portfolio of 2,000 hotels by 16 per cent.
“The purchase of HotelWorld’s assets, and the addition of the 326 hotels throughout Europe to VIP International’s portfolio, provides us with an increased presence in the lucrative European travel and tourism market,” says Rita Emmer, vice president of sales for VIP International.
The purchase places HotelWorld’s local office, which is a hotel guide and booking service for Greek hotel units, in a much better position as well, says Christos Panaretou, HotelWorld (now VIP HotelWorld) Greece’s general manager. “With the Greek hotels in our portfolio now within the database of such a huge company, no doubt we’ll see a marked increased in bookings from abroad,” he says. “As well, VIP bookings come mostly from the leisure traveler, which is our major market.”
Ms Emmer agrees. “Travel agencies in North America will feel more confident in making bookings (on both global distribution systems and the Internet). And up until now, most bookings (from North America) were on Galileo and Amadeus but now we’ll see both Sabre and Worldspan increase bookings.”
She reminds that her company’s mission is to be the number one producer of bookings per client in the industry. And this, she says, we will accomplish by maximizing the potential of every available booking channel, while employing the best technology available.
She says the company’s SynXis system for hotel rates and availability, which is also the company’s central reservation system, is testimony to that. Our system, complete with its booking engine, can be accessed on-line via the Internet and provide real-time access to the global distribution systems Galileo, Amadeus, Sabre and Worldspan and major travel sites, she says. Travel agents get seamless activity, she adds, which means 30% better booking possibilities through GDS and hotel reservation systems.
“Some 30% of bookings are now through the Internet, compared with 100% through GDS’s just two years ago,” she says. She reminds that hoteliers who are ‘electronically aggressive’ win market share and that an Internet booking means no cost or commission. “I strongly urge hoteliers to place allotments on the system and instantly confirm bookings.”
People, she says, do not want email replies but rather a ‘book-me-now’ button and the best possible rates quoted on the site.
She also suggests that every hotelier demand credit card payment for every booking and prepayment for a one-night stay, plus tax, that is non-returnable.
As for VIP, she says the company is invisible with the hotel in the limelight pushed to the top of the screen complete with inventory and its site.
Both Ms Emmer and Chris Panaretou see the waves of Internet change in Europe and say it’s just a matter of time. Greece, however, is far behind the rest of Europe and must play catch-up.