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8 posts categorized "travel agents"

01/11/2012, Innovative New Hotel Search Engine, Launched by Venture Founded by Six of the World's Leading Hotel Companies

Room Key Partners PageComprehensive Website for Hotel Searching Offers Consumers Greater Flexibility, Accuracy and Assurance in their Booking Decisions
Provides Powerful, Cost-effective Booking Channel to Industry Participants.

DALLAS, January 11, 2012 – Room Key, a new venture owned by six of the world’s leading hotel companies, today announced that it has launched, an innovative new online hotel search engine that will provide the simplicity, transparency and breadth of choice consumers expect from a search engine, while delivering the flexibility, accuracy and assurance consumers expect from the hospitality industry.

Founded by Choice Hotels International (NYSE: CHH), Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
(NYSE: H), InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE: IHG), Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) and
Wyndham Hotel Group, part of the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN), or their respective affiliates, and led by a highly regarded management team, provides travelers a search and book experience tailored for ease of hotel shopping through an uncluttered and trustworthy site. It will give consumers confidence that they have made the right choice by providing accurate hotel information straight from the source. From searching through to booking directly with the hotel, enables consumers to search, book and relax.

This unique offering will quickly evolve to offer independent reviews, and the ability to compare, plan
and share with friends and family. Room Key will initially focus on serving U.S. travelers, followed
shortly after launch by the expansion of the site to English-speaking regions outside the U.S.

John F. Davis III, a highly experienced hospitality industry visionary with a history of entrepreneurial
successes, is Chief Executive Officer of Room Key. He leads a veteran executive team with deeply relevant and complementary experience and accomplishments, including Chief Marketing Officer Stephany Verstraete and Chief Technology Officer J. Kurt Zimmer.

The Company acquired its technology platform from hotelicopter in an asset deal that closed last year. This innovative and flexible hotel search and direct connect platform allows Room Key to evolve and enrich the user experience quickly. Additionally, hotelicopter’s affiliate platform will provide destination marketing organizations with a hotel marketing platform that helps drive more direct bookings to their local hotels, now under the Room Key Solutions brand.

Mr. Davis said, “Finding the right hotel is complex and, unlike booking a flight or reserving a car, it is a
personal decision process - one which no one understands better than hoteliers. We believe will provide consumers with an innovative resource that will give them unprecedented confidence in their booking decisions by fulfilling their hotel search needs with comprehensive and trusted content, and over time, through additional features such as the ability to connect and share their plans with family and friends - all provided through a simple and flexible site experience.”

Robert McDowell, Senior Vice President, Global Distribution, Choice Hotels International, said, “We at
Choice are thrilled to be a part of Room Key alongside these five other global hotel companies. In the face of a staggering number of online booking options, our goal is to make the experience of finding the right hotel as personal and enjoyable as the experience of staying in one.”

Chuck Sullivan, Senior Vice President, Global Online Services, Hilton Worldwide, said, “Hilton
Worldwide is extremely pleased to join this unique venture that will provide customers with a wide
range of travel options and the confidence that they will receive exceptional rates by booking directly with suppliers through Room Key.”

John Wallis, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, said, “With an experienced management team in place and a compelling search tool unique to the market today, Room Key is well positioned for success and will quickly become a large scale marketplace offering highly qualified hotel booking leads to our owners and franchisees. We welcome and encourage additional hospitality companies to become commercial partners with Room Key.”

Steve Sickel, Senior Vice President, Distribution and Relationship Marketing, InterContinental Hotels Group, said, “IHG is always seeking new ways to innovate in order to consistently deliver a world class experience for guests - from the moment they choose to book one of IHG’s seven hotel brands, through to the quality of their stay and beyond.  Like so many of IHG’s online innovations, is another industry first, offering guests breadth of choice alongside all the benefits from booking directly through our own websites.”

Shafiq Khan, Senior Vice President of eCommerce, Marriott International, said, “Room Key’snew and unique offering will embody the best of what hotel company websites offer consumers, giving them confidence in their booking decisions – a personalized and welcoming experience that offers flexibility, accuracy, and benefits of booking with the hotel companies’ proprietary sites.  In addition, the immediate scale of this venture will deliver meaningful value to our owners and franchisees by showcasing their properties.  This is an exciting new venture, and Marriott International looks forward to actively supporting Room Key’s growth.”

Flo Lugli, EVP Marketing, Wyndham Hotel Group, commented, “This offering will be of great value for our owners and for consumers as well.  The Room Key website will enable our owners and franchisees to expand the reach of our own, cost-effective direct booking channels, and will also provide consumers with all of the information they’ll need to have confidence in their booking decisions.  We believe consumers will value the relevant pricing information, independent reviews, and in-depth property information the site will offer, and we are proud to be part of an effort that brings such clear benefits to the industry and consumers.”

Management Biographies

John F. Davis III, Chief Executive Officer
Most recently CEO of BirchStreet, John is a well-respected veteran entrepreneur in the online commerce and hospitality sectors with many successful ventures to his credit.  In 1989, he launched Pegasus, the first hotel distribution switch technology, which streamlined GDS and Internet connectivity for hotels worldwide.  In 1992, he launched the industry’s first hotel commission clearinghouse for payments to travel agents.  In 1996, he led the launch of the Web’s first hotel online booking service.  In 1982, he co-founded the world’s first toll-free floral ordering company, 1-800 Flowers.

Stephany Verstraete, Chief Marketing Officer
A seasoned marketing executive with over 15 years of broad experience working for respected industry leaders in the consumer goods and online travel industries, Stephany has built young companies and brands into global market leaders.  She spent 6 years at Expedia, Inc., where she held several marketing leadership roles overseeing all online demand generation and worldwide customer retention efforts for Stephany began her career in marketing and sales roles at Kraft Foods North America and Frito Lay.

J. Kurt Zimmer, Chief Technology Officer
Kurt is a deeply experienced senior information technology executive with a track record of delivering innovative, industry-leading solutions.  Kurt comes to Room Key from TIAA-CREF, where he was a Vice President and Head of Enterprise Architecture, IT Strategy and Application Development responsible for leading a broad transformation of front, middle and back office systems.  Prior to that, he held several technology leadership positions at well-known companies in the financial and consulting industries.  He began his career at Dupont in 1981, serving in several IT roles there, including Chief Technology Architect. 

About Room Key
Room Key is a new venture that has developed an innovative online hotel search engine,,which provides the simplicity, transparency and breadth of choice consumers expect from a search engine, while delivering the flexibility, accuracy and assurance consumers expect from the hospitality industry.  Room Keywasfounded by six of the world’s leading hotel companies – Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Wyndham Hotel Group– and is led by a highly regarded management team.

Tom Marder and Stephanie Hampton
(301) 380-2553/(301) 380-1217 or

Additional Media contacts:
Denise DesChenes / Briana Kelly / Robyn Nentwig
Sard Verbinnen & Co

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AFAR Media Launches AFAR Experiences in Cairo, Egypt

IAfar Cairo Exterior Palace & Swimming Pool..ncludes Cairo Marriott in Immersive Travel Series Inaugural Event: October 25-27, 2011; visit

AFAR Media, the multi-platform media brand focused exclusively on experiential travel, has announced the launch of AFAR Experiences, an immersive travel series that will have its inaugural event in Cairo, Egypt, October 25-27 2011.

Travelers will stay at the five-star, landmark  Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino, which will be the hub of AFAR Experiences-Cairo. Located in the affluent, residential Zamalek area overlooking the River Nile, the hotel itself has a unique place in Cairo history, the original palace building having been constructed in 1869 to host Empress Eugenie for the opening of the Suez Canal. 
AFAR Cairo Promenade Cafe in the Garden The intimate three-day event, open to just 50 attendees, offers a profound program designed to encourage true interaction with local influentials who will offer insights, perspectives and personal access to this beautiful city and its people at a pivotal time.

The agenda includes private admission to the Egyptian Museum, a walk through historic Tahrir Square, intimate dinners in the homes of local residents, an exclusive afternoon session at the magnificent Al Reifai Mosque, and conversations with prominent artists, writers, architects, politicians, cultural historians and revolutionaries at local restaurants, cafes, markets and galleries – with many exciting details yet to be announced. More information on the schedule can be found at

“Since we launched AFAR Media in 2009, we have always intended to realize our core mission through Experiences in places all over the world,” says AFAR founder Greg Sullivan. “Connecting with the authentic essence of a place and its people deepens our understanding of the world, its cultures, and ourselves. Cairo, at this seminal place in its history, is an extraordinary place to be right now.”

“The partnership between AFAR and Marriott works parallel to the primary goal of supporting the new Egypt. We are very excited to see such influential business leaders coming to our wonderful country to experience all it has to offer.” said Richard Zeolla, General Manager of the Cairo Marriott Hotel.

For more information on this historic adventure, please visit

AFAR Media is the multi-platform brand that inspires and guides travelers to experience destinations as deeply as the local residents do. Headquartered in San Francisco, with an office in New York City, the company launched in August 2009. Its platforms include the award-winning AFAR magazine, now celebrating its second anniversary and awarded the Best Travel Magazine in America;, recently named aTop 10 site That Makes Travel Easier; the non profit foundation Learning AFAR; and immersive travel series AFAR Experiences.

Among the premier hotels in Cairo, Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino is the perfect destination for weekend getaways, vacations and business travel. The twin towers rise 20 stories high, with magnificent views of the River Nile and six acres of palace gardens. Sparkling with 977 updated rooms, 111 elegant suites, 15 restaurants, a world-class casino, one of the largest pools in the city, and 35,500 sq ft of meeting and banquet space, this Cairo hotel's accommodations provide everything you need for an unforgettable meeting or celebration. For information, visit
Connect with Shelley Kieran, AFAR Media;; 415.814.1394 or Paula Butler, Marriott International;; (240) 328-7207.


Marriott International’s Annual Report “Opens Doors” to Stunning Hotels Worldwide

Video Message for 2010 Report Showcases Company’s Global Reach

Annual_Bill&Arne2 Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) features some of the most eye-catching hotels in the world in its just-issued interactive 2010 Annual Report online at

The report includes an executive discussion of the company’s business, a comprehensive overview of Marriott’s 18 brands, and easy-to-navigate financial and performance information.  Another highlight—exclusive to the online version— is a 5-minute engaging video with Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott and President and COO Arne Sorenson, who along with Marriott’s global team of associates, virtually “open doors” to some of the company’s global portfolio of hotels.    

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We Hear You Canada – Marriott To Pay Group Commissions in Canadian Dollars

HalifaxWaterview To all group planners in Canada: Marriott International is now making life just a little easier for you.  Marriott, working with Travelex Global Business Payments, will now pay centralized group commissions in Canadian dollars to all accredited Group Partners in Canada booking Marriott’s lodging brands worldwide. 

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“Send Love This Valentine's Day” with Marriott International

Special Travel Agent Promotion begins February 1, 2010

LTA_Logo_Web_Large Marriott International announced today the “Send Love This Valentine’s Day” promotion designed exclusively for travel agents. Qualified travel agents can enter for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas by sending eCards full of love between February 1 – February 19, 2010. The Grand Prize includes a three-night stay at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, coach airfare for two and two tickets to experience Cirque du Soleil’s latest production, LOVE, which celebrates the musical legacy of The Beatles. To enter, travel agents can visit and access the Love Travel Agents page.

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Marriott Launches Reinvigorated Travel Agent Website

Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) is thrilled to announce the redesign of its industry- leading Travel Agent website ( created especially for Marriott’s global travel agent partners. The newly designed and updated site will offer agents new functionalities based on specific feedback from the travel agent community. These functionalities include the ability to access and view commission statements online, and easier access and booking of Marriott’s Fam-Tastic® rates. Additional enhancements allow for Marriott’s certified Hotel Sales Specialists to create their own user-friendly name and password for easier navigation of the site.

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Marriott Introduces New Global "Love Travel Agents" Campaign to Recognize the Travel Agency Community

Campaign Designed to Excite & Engage Travel Industry Community  
Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) today announced the new global Love Travel Agents campaign designed to celebrate and build awareness of the travel agency community and its partners. The comprehensive campaign launched today at THETRADESHOW in Las Vegas, sponsored in part by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Love Travel Agents was created to help build knowledge among travel industry leaders and customers of the pivotal role travel agents play within the travel industry.

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Travel Agents Visit Marriott Headquarters for a "Behind the Scenes" Look at Marriott's Offerings

TravelAgentsatMHQ More than 25 travel agents from all over the country visited Marriott Corporate headquarters recently for a unique behind-the-scenes look at Marriott International. Along with a complete building tour, members of Marriott’s intermediary sales support team were on hand to conduct working sessions and help facilitate discussions on a wide variety of topics including Marriott’s family of brands, and travel agent programs.

 The “Behind the Scenes” tours are offered quarterly for travel agents interested in learning more about Marriott’s offerings. For more information on how to sign up for an upcoming tour please visit Marriott’s Travel Agent website at