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Hotel Giants Work Together to Launch,
an Innovative New Hotel Search Engine

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’s new 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, building young companies and brands into global market leaders.  Stephany spent 6 years at Expedia, Inc., where she held several marketing leadership roles overseeing all online demand generation and worldwide customer retention efforts for  Ms. Verstraete 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 Key was founded 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.

Denise DesChenes / Briana Kelly Robyn Nentwig
Sard Verbinnen & Co

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