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 Xanterra Parks & Resorts Cites Problems with Internet Reservation Services - Internet Services Adding Unnecessary Fees to Room Reservations 

Read the Fine Print, Book Directly with Operators, Advises
 Concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts


DENVER (March 23, 2005) -- Many national park visitors will be paying more than necessary for a lodge room this summer, according to Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of lodges in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and other national parks.
   
Travelers who search on the Internet for national park lodging information will find a long list of sites from which to choose. Some of these sites link to Internet reservations services that charge a non-refundable fee of as much of 12 percent of the total travel price to book lodging within a park. These reservations fees are unnecessary and can be avoided if travelers book directly with concessioners like Xanterra.
   
Xanterra offers free online reservations services at www.xanterra.com for all of the national parks and resorts it operates. Xanterra's reservations employees are available to assist and advise travelers who wish to make their arrangements by phone.
   
"Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware - is becoming increasingly sage advice for travelers," said Judi Lages, vice president of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts. "While they may not be breaking any laws, these services can be misleading and costly to travelers."
   
In addition to the unnecessary fees, Xanterra cites these other problems:
  • Some services lead callers to believe in-park lodging is sold out when rooms are actually available.
  • There can be a high incidence of mistakes in the reservations simply because the agents do not know the parks and lodging options as well as the agents working for the authorized concessioner.
  • It is not always readily clear if lodging is inside a park or in a gateway community.
  • Travelers who must change or cancel their travel plans forfeit these reservations fees.
"We are concerned about these companies because our guests feel duped when they find out they are paying unnecessary fees," said Lages. "While we always try to assist our customers and make adjustments if we can, we cannot refund the fees collected by these companies. It is a frustrating situation, and it is completely avoidable."
   
Xanterra receives the same room revenue whether the rooms are booked by Xanterra or a reservations services company, so there is no incentive for Xanterra to do business with these companies.  Internet services companies operate by taking travelers' contact, credit card and travel preference information over the phone or Internet. These companies must still call Xanterra to actually book the rooms or activities.
   
Here are several ways to distinguish between authorized concessioners and other Internet booking services:
  • Look for language that identifies the operator of the site as the "authorized provider of concession services" within a park. Often, a single concessioner operates lodging within a given national park. The National Park Service website, www.nps.gov, lists authorized concessioners at every national park.
  • Watch out for claims about occupancy. Reservations services may try to paint a bleak picture of room availability inside the park in order to get customers to book outside the park and generate a higher fee for the reservations service. For example, one reservations service implies all lodging in Yellowstone is sold out one year in advance. In fact, reservations for lodges are accepted a year in advance, but the hotels do not sell out at that time.
  • Beware of services that claim access to rooms "even when the park is sold out." Internet reservations services do not hold room blocks. The Xanterra website lists availability of rooms on any given date.
  • Beware of misleading or "official-looking" images. Some sites prominently post a picture of a national park sign with the official National Park Service logo. To a casual or inattentive website user, the use of the image might appear to translate to "official" endorsement from the National Park Service.
  • Beware of sites that intersperse in-park lodging with those outside of the park. Many lodges in national park gateway communities are named after nearby parks and appear to be within the park boundaries. Also, some reservations companies offer to book lodging "at" a park but not "in" a park.
  • Although some of these Internet reservations services companies call themselves travel agencies, that claim is misleading. Travel agents generally collect a commission to book accommodations and then act as middlemen if necessary between the traveler and travel provider. The Internet reservations services merely make the reservation for a non-refundable fee.


Contact:
Mesereau Public Relations
Telephone: 720-842-5271
 Email: mona_mesereau@msn.com
Website: www.xanterra.com


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