September 21, 2006 at 08:00 AM EDT
hotels.com Streamlines Group Travel Planning Process
hotels.com Offers Easy Online Access and Specialized Group Travel Associates; Group Travel Heats Up in Fall

DALLAS, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Planning a getaway for a crowd? hotels.com(R), the expert in booking hotels online and via the phone, is making the process easier and faster for people to plan a variety of group trips.

The new "Groups" tab on the hotels.com home page offers users a clear and easy path for starting the planning process. Unlike other sites, which require multiple clicks to access group travel services, visitors to hotels.com are just one click away from beginning the planning process.

Streamlined access is important to the process, as it helps alleviate some of the burden from those tasked with planning group travel. "Trying to find the right property that will meet the various needs of travelers within a group can be a stressful process, particularly if you are not a frequent traveler and trying to research in your spare time," said Jack Richards, senior vice president of product marketing for hotels.com. "With hotels.com, customers work directly with hotel specialists whose sole focus is group travel. These seasoned experts consider specific customer requirements to find and book the best property for the group at the right price."

Richards adds that the fall season is often prime time for planning group travel. He cites the following groups, all of which have special requirements for their trips:

     * Athletes, coaches, fans and families -- The fall season puts many
       people on the road for a variety of collegiate, children's, amateur and
       professional sports.  This is prime time for college alumni trips,
       homecoming weekends, tournaments and other events.
     * Brides and grooms -- Brides and grooms are firming up plans for the
       upcoming spring/summer wedding season.  Whether the wedding is close to
       home or in a dream destination, couples often need to locate and block
       hotel rooms for guests.  They may also be planning special weekends for
       the bridal party (such as a spa weekend for the bridesmaids and a golf
       getaway for the groomsmen).
     * Families -- The end-of-year holidays are approaching quickly.
       Increasingly, people are choosing to book hotels rather than impose on
       relatives in already crowded households.  Many families also choose to
       get away for the holidays, gladly giving up the chores of cooking and
       cleaning at home to the hotel staff.
     * Friends and couples -- Fall is low season for many popular vacation
       spots.  Friends and couples often take advantage of good deals and
       fewer crowds by planning group trips once schools are back in session.
       Fall foliage trips to New England and Colorado are very popular
       choices.

    How the Process Works
    Here is the process for booking group travel on hotels.com:

     * Travelers interested in reserving nine or more hotel rooms can complete
       a brief online form on hotels.com, which requests details on the
       destination, preferred hotel brands, travel dates and number of rooms
       required.  They may also speak with a group travel specialist at any
       time by calling 866-476-8771.  Travelers may review a wide range of
       hotel descriptions and customer evaluations on hotels.com.
     * Once the form has been submitted, a hotels.com group travel specialist
       will research the request and contact individual hotel properties.
     * Within 24 hours, the group travel specialist will research room
       availability, negotiate rates, and contact the customer by e-mail or
       phone to make property recommendations and confirm the reservation.

Each group travel reservation booked on hotels.com is backed by the hotels.com Low Price Guarantee. If there is a lower rate available for the same travel dates and property, hotels.com will either refund the difference or cancel the reservation without penalty.

To learn more about the group travel service, visit hotels.com or contact a group travel specialist directly by calling 866-476-8771.

About hotels.com

hotels.com(R) is a leading provider of lodging worldwide, offering reservation services through its own web sites (including hotels.com and others), its interactive affiliate network (https://www.IAN.com ) and its toll-free call centers (1-800-2-HOTELS). hotels.com gives travelers one of the widest selections of lodging accommodations from traditional hotels to vacation rentals at more than 70,000 properties worldwide. hotels.com is an operating company of Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE).

hotels.com, the hotels.com logo and the Benny the Bellman logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks in the U.S. and/or other countries of hotels.com, LP, a subsidiary of hotels.com. Other logos or products and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners.

Source: hotels.com

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