Carlson Hotels Worldwide Reinvigorates Patented Look to BookSM Program for Travel Agents

Minneapolis, MN | October 27, 2008

Carlson Hotels Worldwide today announced that it is reinvigorating its trailblazing, patented look to book℠ travel agent loyalty program. The program, which began in 1992 and is noted as the industry standard for recognizing travel agents for their brand loyalty, will now offer new generation functionality, as well as a contemporary design and enriched communication features to further enhance benefits to agents worldwide.

All five of Carlson Hotels Worldwide brands participate in the look to book program, and include Regent Hotels & Resorts (www.regenthotels.com); Radisson Hotel & Resorts® (www.radisson.com); Park Plaza® Hotels & Resorts (www.parkplaza.com); Country Inns & Suites By Carlson℠ (www.countryinns.com); and Park Inn® (www.parkinn.com). The company's global portfolio currently consists of 995 hotels and resorts with 148,493 guestrooms in 74 countries. The 1,000th location is anticipated to open in mid-December 2008.Enhancements travel agents will experience with the look to book program include the following:

  • Fresh, contemporary and colorful new design to engage the attention of agents;

  • New Web site (www.looktobook.com) with enhanced, easy-to-use functionality; and

  • Online award redemption with improved search capabilities provided in nine languages to extend its global reach.

To help build excitement around the new era of look to book, travel agents in the United States can participate in a valuable sweepstakes now through Jan. 15, 2009, that will award random prizes, including a grand prize of a 2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid automobile. Agents can enter to win by visiting the new Web site and then either creating or updating their member profile. Agents can also acquire bonus entries for every third booking of a Carlson-branded property.

"Because the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) remain the backbone of the business travel segment, Carlson Hotels Worldwide continues its unwavering support, education and communication with travel agents through look to book," said Fredrik Korallus, executive vice president of revenue generation for Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "In fact, statistics show that travel agents, on average, book hotels at a higher Average Daily Rate (ADR) than bookings made without an agent. For these reasons, we continue to invest in the look to book program, as it remains important to our brands, and still leads the industry in recognizing the contribution of agents with more points per booking, faster earning potential and better reward options."

Korallus went on to say that the TravelCLICK®* study he is citing reports the average rate for room nights booked through travel agents for the second quarter of 2008 was 40 percent higher than the average rate for room nights booked via the Internet for the same period in 2007. Also, travel consultant bookings represented 93 percent of total room nights, and the agent component of GDS bookings showed a 9.1 percent increase in ADR and a 12.8 percent increase in revenue versus the fourth quarter of 2006.

Of the 900,000 global travel agents, there are approximately 150,000 involved in the look to book program. More than one-fourth of active members enrolled in 1992 are still earning and redeeming points today.

"While look to book recognizes and rewards travel agents for their booking loyalty, we also offer goldpoints plus℠ to reward guests for their frequent stays at our hotel brands worldwide," said Korallus. "When agents mention to their clients that they can earn more points faster through goldpoints plus - in fact, double points from 10 points to 20 points per dollar spent at our full-service brands - the agent becomes a more valuable resource to their clients. Agents can direct their clients to our dothemathsite.com which provides travelers with an easy-to-navigate comparison calculator to learn about the value of Carlson's goldpoints plus guest loyalty program."

In addition to offering a site for entering the sweepstakes, the new www.looktobook.com contains the latest information on Carlson hotel brands, new locations, renovations and special offers. It is also the primary "portal" for members seeking real time program communication, bonus offer updates, personal account balances and awards redemption.The program offers a variety of awards including hotel stays, airline miles, and a range of retail gift cards, including Target, Pottery Barn, Staples and Borders. One of the most popular items among agents in the United States is the look to book Prepaid Visa® card, which is good anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Gift certificates and gift cards, including the look to book Visa card, now account for nearly 80 percent of member redemptions.

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Carlson Hotels Worldwide is one of the major operating groups of Carlson, a global leader in the marketing, travel and hospitality industries. Other names among the Carlson family of brands and services are: Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Carlson Marketing, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, T.G.I. Friday's and Pick Up Stix restaurants. The company has been recognized by both Fortune and Working Mother magazines as one of the "100 best places to work for in America," Carlson corporate headquarters are in Minneapolis, Minn. More information is available online at www.carlsonhotels.com.*eMonitor Results for the second quarter of 2008 are compiled from TravelCLICK's comprehensive proprietary database, which is the exclusive source of hotel industry electronic distribution data from the Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, and Worldspan GDS. The database of electronic distribution performance provides a comprehensive foundation for data analysis and trend forecasting that is used by the global hospitality industry in developing integrated distribution strategies.(30)

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