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 November 19, 1999

Independent hotels link to online database

LONGMONT – A Longmont hotel has joined a slue of other independently owned hotels in linking up to a computer database so travel agents can book reservations online.

Raintree Plaza Hotel in Longmont has joined Rezolutions’ Global Distribution System, linking it to almost 700,000 travel agents worldwide, said Pam Hill, Raintree’s rooms coach. The hotel hooked up with Rezolutions on Sept. 1.

“An agent can go into their system in Hong Kong or New York and reserve a room here,” Hill said.

“Many companies do this. It was originated by the airline industry about 30 years ago,” she said. But now, the Global Distribution System is used by travel agents to book hotel rooms for travelers.

“We are getting quite a few reservations, but it hasn’t affected our occupancy level yet,” Hill said. “It’s simple for agents to book this way.”

GDS allows travelers to make reservations through travel agents in seconds rather than the seven-minute average.

Before joining this network, travel agents had to call or e-mail the hotel to make reservations. Often they had to wait on the phone to make a reservation, she said.

Raintree has contracted with Rezolutions to connect the hotel to four major search engines used by travel agents – Expedia, Travelocity, Hotelbook and TravelNet.

When a travel agent enters into the computer any city within a 30-mile radius of Longmont, Raintree Plaza appears as a possible reservation site.

“A lot of chain hotels are on this already,” Hill said.

Raintree Plaza, which is part of Pratt Properties, is an independent hotel and has never been linked to a worldwide network of this type before, she said. The hotel has 294 rooms and caters mostly to a corporate clientele.

As a corporate hotel, Raintree Plaza handles group business such as meetings of baseball teams, church groups, sororities and fraternities. It also accommodates business travelers to the Boulder area.

“We used to get overflow (from Boulder), but we don’t get much of it anymore,” Hill said.

She pointed out that some 1,800 new hotel rooms have been added along the U.S. 36 corridor in the last few years.

“Because of all the new hotels in the area, we’re not the only one looking for new ways to boost occupancy,” Hill said.

The Boulderado Hotel in downtown Boulder also subscribes to the Global Distribution System through Canadian-based VIP International, said hotel Public Relations Director Mary Ann Mahoney.

“It accounts for a good percentage of our bookings,” Mahoney said. The Boulderado, also an independently owned hotel, has subscribed to the service for several years.

The hotel pays for the service through a booking fee, a connect fee and a fee to the travel agent.

“It’s very beneficial to us to be connected with this. It lets travel agents book rooms very quickly,” she said. “We give the computer system our availability on a daily basis along with blackout dates and dates that are not available.”

The hotel may black out dates, for example, when it knows it will receive heavy bookings for visitors to the University of Colorado for football games or graduation weekends.

Through the system, the hotel receives bookings from all kinds of travelers, but most are business travelers, she said.

Another independently owned hotel, The Broker Inn in Boulder, also has been hooked up to the Global Distribution for eight or nine years, said Kathleen Clendenen, sales manager for the hotel.

She said the hotel subscribes to Utell International, based in Omaha, Neb. “Any travel agency can go in and pull up our rates,” she said.

Utell receives a 7 percent commission on all bookings, she said.

“It’s worth it. You don’t have a choice at this point if you’re not a chain hotel. If you’re an independent, your property comes up on the computer,” she said.

Clendenen said the booking system accounts for more of the hotel’s business during the off-season than the peak season. In the peak season, the hotel fills up with groups for conferences.

But the off-season brings many corporate and government travelers who visit Boulder, she said, and many of these travelers are booked through the computer reservations system.

Meanwhile, the Best Western Golden Buff Lodge in Boulder, part of the Best Western hotel chain, has been on a computer reservation system with travel agents “since Day One,´ said Manager John Boeve.

As part of the Best Western hotel chain, he said, the property always has been linked to travel agents for reservations bookings.

About 60 percent of the hotel’s business year-round is business travelers, while the remainder is tourists. And of that business travel, about 95 percent comes through the computer reservations system, he said.

LONGMONT – A Longmont hotel has joined a slue of other independently owned hotels in linking up to a computer database so travel agents can book reservations online.

Raintree Plaza Hotel in Longmont has joined Rezolutions’ Global Distribution System, linking it to almost 700,000 travel agents worldwide, said Pam Hill, Raintree’s rooms coach. The hotel hooked up with Rezolutions on Sept. 1.

“An agent can go into their system in Hong Kong or New York and reserve a room here,” Hill said.

“Many companies do this. It was originated by the airline industry about 30 years ago,” she said. But now, the Global…

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