Hotel Online  Special Report


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Red Lion Hotels & WestCoast Hotels Tackle Internet Rate
Battle Head-On with the Industry's Richest Rate
Guarantee: “We Promise or We Pay”

February 23, 2004 SPOKANE, Wash. -- Red Lion Hotels & WestCoast Hotels has taken on the issues of travel websites offering a confusing array of low price claims. Specifically, starting March 1, 2004, new distribution dashboard technology will allow WestCoast Hospitality Corporation (NYSE: WEH), representing Red Lion Hotels and WestCoast Hotels in the U.S. and Canada, to guarantee that their websites, www.redlion.com and www.westcoasthotels.com, offer the best online rate, or guests will receive the richest compensation in the industry.

“We're proclaiming, 'We Promise or We Pay,'” said Barry Hughes, VP of Marketing & Distribution for WestCoast Hospitality. “We're so sure of our rate integrity that we're putting our money where our mouth is.”

While a number of other hotel chains have launched best rate guarantee programs that match the rate if someone finds a lower price on a site other than the brand website and offer a 10 to 20 percent discount to make amends, the WestCoast Hospitality policy says “find a lower price and your stay is free” plus the company will supply a voucher good for $100 toward a future purchase at any Red Lion or West Coast Hotel. Even more importantly, the Promise covers all the major third-party sites that allow consumers to choose a hotel brand.

“Forrester Research says the average consumer visits six sites while planning a trip and comScore Media Metrix says the big three travel sites get 28 percent of all that traffic,” said Hughes. “Consumers value third party sites for their shopping and comparison ability; but we know that guests trust hotel brand sites for their depth, quality and accuracy of information. With our 'We Promise or We Pay' guarantee our guests are assured that when they come to redlion.com or westcoasthotels.com for that service and depth, they can make us their last stop, because they are getting the best rate, too.”

Distribution Dashboard Technology Lets Red Lion Throw Down Gauntlet

WestCoast Hospitality Corporation's ability to offer consumers such a rich promise is assured by the multi-million dollar upgrade in rooms inventory distribution technology the company installed last year. “We have made our rooms available to as many different channels as our guests can search,” said Hughes. “In the past, we had to independently manage inventory across nine different major channels, each of which might show our customer a different rate for the same room on the same night. No one site was ever the consistently lowest-priced offer. Now, thanks to our new distribution dashboard technology and agreements we have negotiated with the third party sites, we can offer value-oriented rates consistently and accurately, anywhere and everywhere.”

Aside from promoting consumer confidence in their website, the technology allows WestCoast Hospitality to throw down the gauntlet in the tournament for online hotel room bookings, where the stakes are significant. While third party travel vendor Orbitz is reporting a 35 percent gain in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003, and IAC (parent of Expedia, Hotels.com and Hotwire) is reporting a 36 percent increase for the fourth quarter of 2003, compared to 2002,   PricewaterhouseCooper estimates that such 'merchant sites' diluted hotel revenues by $1.99 billion last year.

“Our best rate guarantee has a dual purpose,” said Hughes. “Not only do we satisfy consumers who are seeking the best rate, we satisfy all of our stakeholders, internal and external, that our promise means we won't be passive, allowing revenue to be diverted toward distribution costs. Our third-party negotiations have indicated that these travel sites are more and more inclined to work with us on this pricing issue in order to craft a win-win relationship.”

Complete terms and conditions for the “We Promise or We Pay” program can be found at redlion.com or westcoasthotels.com, or by calling 877-289-2007.

WestCoast Hospitality Corporation is a NYSE-listed hospitality and leisure company primarily engaged in the ownership, management, development and franchising of mid-scale, full service hotels under its WestCoast(R) and Red Lion(R) brands. In addition, through its entertainment division, which includes its TicketsWest.com, Inc., subsidiary, it engages in event ticket distribution and promotes and presents a variety of entertainment productions. G&B Real Estate Services, its real estate division, engages in traditional real estate-related services, including developing, managing and acting as a broker for sales and leases of commercial and multi-unit residential properties. Registered trademarks of WestCoast Hospitality Corporation and its affiliates protect the use of “WestCoast,” “Red Lion,” “TicketsWest” and “G&B” and various derivatives of those usages.

 

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Contact:

WestCoast Hospitality Corporation
Stephen Barbieri, VP, Communications
Phone:     1-509-323-7211
Internet: InvestorRelations@WestCoastHotels.com
www.redlion.com
www.westcoasthotels.com
www.ticketswest.com
www.g-b.com

Stephanie Seacord
Leading Edge
135 Piscassic Road (PO Box 960)
Newfields NH 03856
T: 603-772-1835
F: 603-772-7066
stephanieseacord@msn.com

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Also See WestCoast Hospitality Completing Conversion of 22 of Hotels to the Red Lion Flag / February 2003
WestCoast Hospitality Acquires All of the Capital Stock of Red Lion Hotels, Inc. from Hilton Hotels Corp; Consideration Paid Approximately $50.6 million / Jan 2002


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