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Seattle CVB Expands Hotel Booking Program

Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) announced today the extension of its popular Seattle Super Saver hotel booking program following a remarkably favorable customer satisfaction survey, endorsement by Seattle’s hotel community and a $100,000 overhaul of the program’s web site, including the construction of an online booking engine which has helped position the program as an alternative to the goliath web-based hotel booking companies.
Running from mid-Fall through March 31 for the past 13 seasons, Seattle Super Saver will now extend through Oct. 31, 2004, offering hotel savings during the city’s high tourism season and, with continued success, the prospect of year-around operation

Of particular cause for celebration is the achievement of a critical 20 percent share shift from call center to web site bookings, firmly establishing
as a competitive online booking service guaranteeing the best available rates on Seattle hotels. Since the season began in November, roughly 60 percent of bookings have come from the Seattle Super Saver web site, representing 10,000 room nights and a record $1 million in hotel revenue. Comparatively, 40 percent of bookings, or 7,000 room nights, have been made via the toll-free call center. The program’s robust online booking engine, built by SCVB last November, allows participating hotels to make dynamic rate and inventory changes and consumers to easily and quickly survey a wider array of room types and hotels to make “real-time bookings.”

The upgrades have been a hit with program users. SCVB and Seattle-based GoTech conducted a customer satisfaction survey of 2,300 Seattle Super Saver past users in mid-March, garnering a 23 percent response rate. Respondents rated highly the program’s primary features: a meet-or-beat rate guarantee; no pre-payment; no booking or hidden fees; no cancellation fees (up to 24 hours); and best available room offered at check-in. These distinctive program features will be retained while less popular features such as the honoring of hotel loyalty points will be dropped from the program. Also, according to customer demand, Seattle Super Saver’s room inventory will expand beyond downtown Seattle to offer bookings at hotels in the University District, East Side, Sea-Tac and elsewhere. A foundation of some 40 properties in the program this month is expected to grow steadily through the spring and summer of 2004.

“Our program is small compared to behemoth online bookers such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz,” said Steve Morris, president & CEO of Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But according to a recent survey, our customers overwhelmingly praise Seattle Super Saver’s rates, features and service for its greater overall value. Their experiences with our program have been as good or better than with private sector web booking companies and they say they’ll book through Seattle Super Saver again. Recognizing the strength of our product and the potential for growth, our Seattle hotel partners have compelled us to expand our dates and add inventory.”

The Seattle Super Saver program was one of the first convention & visitor bureau consumer housing programs of its kind in the U.S. Benefiting both travelers and Seattle hotels, the program is operated by the non-profit Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau and sanctioned by the Seattle Hotel Association. This unique tourism industry alliance allows Seattle Super Saver to offer “preferred” room inventory at the best available rates, as well as a unique package of benefits and services not available via any other Seattle hotel distribution channel. Participating properties can match the lowest available rates during requested dates while also offering options for upgrades to higher room categories or suites at substantially discounted Super Saver rates at the time of the reservation. At check-in, Seattle Super Saver hotels will draw from the best available guestrooms and suites, depending on availability. Other online bookers typically offer leftover room inventories to their customers.