Best Western Launches Wireless First Phase

Best Western, the world`s largest hotel chain, has entered the m-commerce arena with the launch of a first phase wireless capability, expanding on the company`s well established Internet presence.


The new application will allow users of Web-enabled phones, pagers and PDAs to access Best Western information on the go, Best Western announced. Customers will be able to search for hotels by major city or conduct a city search, check availability using arrival and departure dates, research hotel facts and information, check Gold Crown Club (Best Western`s frequent traveler program) point balances and click-to-dial any of Best Western`s toll-free reservations numbers.


The launch of our wireless site was the next logical step in our e-commerce strategy,” said Mary Beth Knight, vice president of e-commerce for Best Western. “This application increases accessibility to our highly acclaimed Web site and keeps Best Western on the forefront of this rapidly advancing technology.”


Plans for wireless in the future include online booking, she said. The company is also testing m-wallet capabilities that would allow consumers to store payment and billing information on their wireless device to ease booking procedures.


Best Western has 4,065 hotels in 82 countries and territories. It is a membership association of independently owned and operated hotels that provides marketing, reservations and operational support to its members.

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This week, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) announced at ASTA`s 71st World Travel Congress in New York that Best Western International has become the society`s largest single member, measured by the number of locations.


Best Western International corporate headquarters will continue its ASTA membership for the 27th year, and its individual member properties will become associate members.


“As the largest hotel chain in the world, Best Western`s action clearly demonstrates the importance of ASTA to the vitality of the travel industry,” said ASTA President and CEO Richard M. Copland.


“Travel agents have always been important to Best Western and represent 48% of our reservation business,” said Bob Gilbert, Best Western`s vice president of Worldwide Marketing and Sales. Agents are an effective, efficient channel to distribute our products and we want to support agents through progressive commission policies and by supporting their association—the American Society of Travel Agents.``


Best Western has demonstrated its support of travel agents by sponsoring educational programs at ASTA`s 71st World Travel Congress and continuing its commitment to paying agent commissions. Best Western is currently planning other joint promotions with ASTA for 2002.


In addition, Best Western will increase consumer recognition of ASTA by using the society`s logo on promotional brochures, letterhead and in its properties worldwide.


ASTA is the world`s largest travel trade association with 26,000 members in more than 170 countries.

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