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Red Lion and WestCoast Hotels Launch Enhanced GDS Connectivity

WestCoast Hospitality Corporation, representing Red Lion and WestCoast Hotels in the U.S. and Canada, now participates at the highest level of connectivity in the three largest Global Distribution Systems (GDS’) serving travel agents in North America. This new level of functionality was implemented by leveraging the enhanced GDS interface of MICROS Opera Central Reservations platform by MICROS Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: MCRS - News).

The GDS’ are the sales and inventory distribution backbone for travel agents, in-house corporate travel departments, and many of the Internet distribution systems. In an effort to increase travel agent hotel sales, the GDS’ recently launched data integrity initiatives that provide their customers with data sourced directly from a hotel company’s reservations system. This new level of connectivity is referred to in the industry as “Next Generation Seamless.”

In short, this enhancement provides GDS users with real-time rates and availability that is 100% identical to the information used by a hotel company’s own reservations staff. This increased accuracy allows travel agents to sell more confidently and reduces the instances where the GDS’ are bypassed as travel agents book via telephone to assure their clients the lowest rates. Galileo Inside Shopper, Worldspan Integrated Hotel Source, Sabre Direct Connect Shop, the respective GDS’ Next Generation Seamless products, were implemented by WestCoast between July and September, 2004. The certification process is underway with Amadeus to provide their customers with enhanced connectivity via their next-generation seamless product, Dynamic Access. A cutover date is expected to be announced shortly.

“Travel agents remain a very important market channel for our hotels,” said Barry Hughes, VP - Marketing and Distribution for WestCoast Hospitality. “While many travel vendors are turning their backs on travel agents and trying to displace them, they still play an important role in the fulfillment process for many leisure and corporate customers. Our investment in Next Generation Seamless Connectivity should be viewed by our travel agent partners as our commitment to their future success,” said Hughes. Hughes added, “We were the launch customer for the MICROS Opera Central Reservations platform eighteen months ago, and since then we’ve continually offered new booking enhancements to make it easier for travel agents to sell our hotels. Agents have responded in kind, and have commented on the increased ease and confidence in booking our hotels electronically through the MICROS Opera Central Reservations system.”

“We are very pleased to see customers like WestCoast Hospitality use the tools we have developed to grow their businesses and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said Tom Giannopoulos, Chairman and CEO for MICROS Systems. “We developed the new Opera platform that was launched by WestCoast, to provide hotel companies with access to the tools and functionality once limited to only the largest hotel brands,” Giannopoulos added. WestCoast Hospitality is the first independent hotel company of its size to participate in the GDS Next Generation Seamless programs. “To be successful in hotel automation, MICROS must keep its customers on the leading edge of technology, with the broadest connectivity to the GDS and ADS Channels,” Giannopoulos said.