ResortQuest International, Inc. (NYSE: RZT), the first brand name in vacation rentals, resort property management and real estate sales, today announced that the introduction in January of an on-line booking engine to its website, resortquest.com, is generating significant returns in its first quarter of operation. Company officials estimate that between January and March 1999 consumers booked $2 million in reservations at ResortQuest properties through resortquest.com.
ResortQuest is the first one-stop resource for vacation home and condominium rentals. ResortQuest`s current portfolio comprises nearly 15,000 vacation rental properties in 30 premier resort destinations in North America. The company launched its website in October 1998 and soon began receiving more than 500,000 “hits” a month. Average hits per month now total more than eight million.
“According to a leading Internet resource, on-line leisure travel bookings will increase rapidly over the next five years, from an estimated $3 billion in 1998 to $29 billion in 2003,” said David Sullivan, ResortQuest International chairman and CEO. “Based on growing consumer acceptance and use of the Internet, we believe resortquest.com could account for more than a third of the company`s revenues over the next few years. Since the beginning of the year, our website hits have grown to nearly 15 million.”
“The Internet is the best and certainly the most cost-effective vehicle for marketing vacation home and condominium rentals internationally,” Sullivan said. “According to one recent study, half of U.S. `interactive travelers` use the Internet for leisure travel planning. We are tapping into this rapidly growing market by providing visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to actually see their vacation rental property before they book it.”
resortquest.com provides consumers with easy access to ResortQuest`s growing portfolio of vacation home and condominium rentals. Consumers can get detailed property descriptions, view interior and exterior photos and floor plans and obtain local information, as well as information about special ResortQuest offers and promotions.
David Levine, president and COO, noted that ResortQuest has aggressively marketed the website through a combination of advertising in major consumer newspaper and travel publications, direct mail, e-mail, Internet banners and special promotions. He added that visitors like the in-depth information they can receive about a specific location, as well as about each individual rental property. “When Internet users visit our site, they can select their vacation by mountain, beach or desert destinations, then choose from our 30 resort locations and nearly 15,000 property rental options,” he said.
p>Sullivan noted that the company is continually adding new and more expansive content to its website, including new destinations. Since its IPO in May 1998, ResortQuest has completed 12 acquisitions, aggregating more than 4,500 total units, which represents a 44 percent increase in ResortQuest`s initial portfolio of vacation rental homes.
Levine added that the company`s five-level rating system, which grades each property against stringent, specific standards, will be added to the website in May. “Travelers know what to expect at a three-star mid-priced hotel and a five-star luxury hotel,” he noted. “Our rating system gives our guests the same level of confidence. This is an unprecedented advantage for ResortQuest vacationers, who know exactly what to expect of their vacation accommodations.”
ResortQuest`s current locations include Gulf Shores, Ala.; Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz.; Palm Desert, Calif.; Aspen, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Dillon and Telluride, Colo.; Bethany Beach, Del.; Captiva Island, Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Sanibel Island, Fla.; St. Simons Island, Ga.; Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, Hawaii; Nantucket, Mass.; Big Sky, Mont.; the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Sunriver, Ore.; Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Park City, Utah; and Whistler, British Columbia.
ResortQuest maintains corporate offices in Memphis, Tenn.