Hotel Online Press Releases 
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Starwood Unveils 
a Comprehensive and Friendly 
Travel Agent Area on the WWW
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BOSTON, June 23, 1998 - On June 23,  Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. breaks ground with the their brand new online Travel Agent area - the most comprehensive, information-intensive and agent-friendly Web-based travel agent area offered by a travel supplier. The travel Agent area can be found on three of Starwood's Web sites (  www.sheraton.com , www.luxurycollection.com and www.fourpoints.com   ). In a first for the travel industry, the new travel agent area allows travel agencies to receive commissions for customer bookings over the Web by allowing users to choose from a comprehensive worldwide listing of all IATA-, ARC- or TIDS-listed travel agencies.

"We are really excited about the new Travel Agent area -- the result of extensive research and feedback from travel agents and our own executives who deal directly with the agent community. We feel it represents the perfect example of what agents want to see in a travel site," said David Van Kalsbeek, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Brian Pratt, Vice President, Director of Interactive Marketing, headed up plans for the Travel Agent area, and incorporated suggestions from The Luxury Collection Advisory Board.  One key suggestion was the ability for guests to give their travel agencies credit for their online booking by choosing from a comprehensive list of more than 148,000 agencies worldwide that have an IATA, ARC or TIDS number.  Starwood's Customer Advisory Board unanimously agreed that this feature would firmly establish Starwood as a leading partner with the travel agent community.

"In this day and age, all agents have to have a concern for what happens on the Web and what the potential of the Web is going to be for travel bookings. It was our desire to see that the online reservations process for our customers would be linked back to us in this way so that our clients would maintain that connection when they make a booking, thereby solidifying the relationship that we fostered," Andy Pesky, President, Leisure of McCord Travel Management (NYC) comments. "We are thrilled that Starwood has implemented this. They are the first in the industry to take such a bold move, and will hopefully set the standard across the board."

The new travel agent area is now exclusively available to agents who qualify their entrance with their IATA number. Once inside, agents are personally welcomed by name and are invited to navigate a wealth of information. Exciting features include: "Hot Deals" offering special rates at hotels around the world; benefits of Sheraton Club International, the company's frequent guest program; details on Starwood's centralized commission program; information on individual and group bookings, with the ability to make online reservations using their IATA, ARC or TIDD number and receive the standard commission; Vacations by Sheraton; company programs and special rates including Club Level accommodations, the 9 to 5 program, ExpressPass Check-In, Global Preference and SET volume-based corporate rate programs and SureSaver rates, among others.

The travel agent area also includes frequently asked questions, as well as a "Tell Us About You" area that allows agents to give the company information about their preferences and the company's brands, and represents the first time the company has ever formally surveyed agents. The feedback allows the company to send special promotions to agents based on their preferences, and will be a source for future enhancements to the Web sites.

 "As any effective Web site, our site is constantly evolving and improving based on feedback from our guests and customers around the world," said Brian Pratt. "We receive on average 200 e-mails a day via our Web site with questions, feedback and comments about the company and our Web site. This feedback is invaluable to us in putting together what we feel is the best hotel company Web site out there, and will only get better as we continue to learn from our customers."

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., through its Sheraton, Westin and Caesars subsidiaries, is one of the leading hotel and gaming operating companies in the world. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is the largest real estate investment trust in the United States. Shares of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. are paired and trade together with shares of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: HOT).

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Contact:
Dolores Sanchez
dsanchez@ittsheraton.com
(617) 367-5481
or
Lisa Dickason
ldickason@ittsheraton.com
(617) 367-5512
or
Molly Beckers
Online Marketing Coordinator
iXL- San Francisco
(415) 289-7100 x105
(415) 289-7101 fax
mbeckers@ixl.com
 
Also read: Starwood Hotels, which operates ITT Sheraton, Westin and Caesars Announces Management Structure and Relocation of Corporate Headquarters   March 1998

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