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March 2007 - New luxury leisure consortium launches: Great Hotels Organisation fills industry niche

In response to the changing European leisure sales marketplace, Great Hotels Organisation (GHO; http://www.ghorg.com) is launching a new consortium similar to Virtuoso, America’s leading network of independent luxury travel agencies.

Great Hotels Luxury Network (GHLN; http://www.ghorg.com/ghln.html) will fill the niche that has been created by the increased fragmentation of an ever changing European marketplace.

Recent developments in the European leisure sales market have seen it become gradually more fragmented, along the lines already seen in the US. The change is occurring as an increased number of tour operators and travel agents specialise into niche areas in response to the dynamic packaging and online challenges to their traditional businesses. The result in the luxury sector is a larger and more geographically diverse number of smaller niche operators that struggle to obtain good rates and allocation from the best hotels.

The geographical transition that is also occurring is driven by new feeder markets emerging mainly in Eastern Europe and Asia. For independent hotels, this means they no longer have the resources to target and contract individually with this rapidly growing demand segment.

Great Hotels Luxury Network will act as a central contracting and negotiation point operating as the bridge between small niche tour operators and quality luxury hotels. By negotiating the best rates and securing allocation on the agents’ behalf, GHLN will provide the niche tour operators with the luxury portfolio they have previously not been able to obtain. Hotels will benefit from this formerly elusive business through one simple contract with GHLN, which makes the increased revenue attainable without putting a stretch on precious resources.

The whole programme will be run on a brand new technology platform developed by Great Hotels Organisation especially for this purpose.

Whilst the concept is not dissimilar from that offered by Virtuoso in the US, it will not become a direct competitor. Great Hotels Luxury Network will not charge agents and hotels to take part in the network; its income will be based on transactions running through the system.

Geneviève Materne, GHO Director of Global Sales, commented: “The fragmentation of the marketplace is a relatively recent phenomenon but one which has potentially profound impacts onthe industry as a whole. GHO is delighted to be able to solve the problem that this change has created and provide a means of enabling agents and hotels to work more efficiently together”.

Membership of Great Hotels Luxury Network is strictly by invitation only where strict criteria need to be met. For further details, visit http://www.ghorg.com/ghln.html and to request consideration for inclusion, email globalsales@ghorg.com

For further press information, please contact:

Note to editors: The Great Hotels Organisation’s family of brands include Special Hotels of the World (http://www.shotw.com) and Great Hotels of the World (http://www.ghotw.com), a forerunner among luxury hotel marketing alliances representing over 240 of the world’s finest hotels and resorts. Both brands are driven by six core values, notably to keep members’ costs down, to view each member as unique, to be innovative with technology, to value the power of the alliance, and to maintain the quality and integrity of the brand. Whichever brand is right for your property, the Great Hotels Organisation has a different and customer-driven approach to hotel sales and marketing. The Great Hotels Organisation manages the “GW” private label GDS chain code and toll-free voice reservation numbers operate in the USA and Europe. Further information on the Great Hotels Organisation can be found at http://www.ghorg.com.

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