SPOKANE, WA. -- Using the best-practices of its bigger rivals as a spring-board, Red Lion Hotels has launched a totally redesigned version of www.redlion.com that is filled with an array of ground breaking features designed to give its customers unequalled access to rates and information. Red Lion Hotels is owned by WestCoast Hospitality Corporation (NYSE: WEH).
Among the site's many industry-leading tools and functions are reference rates that give a guest an idea of costs even if the guest does not know travel dates, the ability to compare Red Lion's rates against rates on other travel sites, online access to a live reservation agent, online redemption of the company's proprietary "Only4Me Web Deals," and much more.
Red Lion Hotels has over 60 properties in 11 western states and Canada. Its substantial investment in its web site redesign is the latest in a series of chain-wide initiatives that significantly enhance the guest experience through technology upgrades, property renovations and improved service delivery.
"We spent a lot of time listening to our customers and looking at what other companies have been doing on the Internet," commented Arthur Coffey, President and Chief Executive Officer of WestCoast Hospitality Corporation, the owner of the Red Lion brand, "From that analysis, we've been able to design something that better meets the evolving needs of the consumer and sets a new standard for how hotel chains should present themselves online."
To introduce travelers to its new web site, Red Lion Hotels is offering members of its GuestAwards program 7,500 bonus points for the first reservation they make on the site between now and September 30, 2005 for arrival dates through December 30, 2005. Those who are not yet members of GuestAwards can enroll on the site and immediately become eligible for the special offer.
"We want our guests to 'Stay Comfortable' and everything about the site is built around ease of use and helping customers get all the information they need at exactly the moment they need it," explained Barry Hughes, Vice President, Marketing and Distribution. "Consumers continue to shift their research and booking activities to the web and our new site gives them a comprehensive toolset to make the best and most informed decision possible all in one place."
A closer look at the site's most unique features includes:
Reference Rates: Red Lion Hotels is the first chain to offer guests a chance to see the rates for a hotel even when they don't enter specific travel dates. By scanning the hotel's rates for the 14 days ahead of the current date, Red Lion Hotels automatically returns a range of rates to give customers an initial idea of costs.
Rate Compare: Without leaving the site, guests can immediately compare rates for the same room and travel dates on other travel booking engines, including Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz.
Talk to Us: With the click-to-call service powered by eStara, consumers can initiate a web-based conversation from key pages within the site with a Red Lion guest service agent, either via telephone or an Internet connected PC. Calls are automatically directed to the appropriate person or department based on the page in which the inquiry is made including reservation agents, national sales, and GuestAwards loyalty program service agents.
Only4Me Web Deals: The web site introduces Red Lion's proprietary automated one-to-one marketing program that allows guests to redeem offers generated specifically by the guest's interaction with the hotels and the GuestAwards program. Each offer is assigned a unique redemption code that, when input on the website, displays an offer or range of offers unique to the requesting customer. The site also invalidates the redemption code once used so marketing offers are truly "one to one."
GuestAwards: Members of Red Lion's loyalty program can now redeem their points for free nights online, with instant confirmations of their awards and automatic account updates performed at the time of booking. The site also allows GuestAwards redemption stays to be canceled online with the points automatically being re-deposited in members' account.
Destination Guides: Extensive city and area information has been custom-created for every Red Lion hotel, which gives detailed information on restaurants and attractions in the vicinity. Of particular note is the depth of content offered in smaller cities such as Pocatello, Idaho; Pendleton, Oregon; and Wenatchee, Washington to help those traveling to locations that are not typically featured in traditional travel guides and websites.
Extensive Content: The web site features refreshed editorial content and new photography and 360 degree virtual tour images that showcase each hotel.
Packaging: Through the World Wide Travel Exchange, guests can now book air and car along with Red Lion hotel rooms. Unique to redlion.com are multiple packaging paths that enable customers to book travel with Red Lion's marketing partners. At launch, customers can book Outrigger and OHANA hotel rooms and air travel on Alaska and Horizon Airlines directly from the redlion.com website. Additional marketing partners and cross-marketing offers are expected to be added in the future.
Tickets to Local Events: Through the company's ticketing affiliate, TicketsWest (www.ticketswest.com), users of the site can readily search for and book TicketsWest events that are taking place in cities where Red Lion hotels are located. Through cross-selling tools embedded in the Red Lion and TicketsWest websites, context sensitive hotel offers are displayed to TicketsWest customers and date sensitive events are displayed to redlion.com customers. This added value increases the usefulness of the sites to customers and competitively differentiates the sites.
"The quality of the online experience is a direct reflection of the quality of our brand," said Coffey, "The new website reflects how Red Lion cares for and values its guests."
To take a closer look at the new site, simply visit www.redlion.com.
About WestCoast Hospitality Corporation
WestCoast Hospitality Corporation is a hospitality and leisure company primarily engaged in the ownership, management, development and franchising of upper mid-scale, full service hotels under its Red Lion® and WestCoast® brands. In addition, through its entertainment division, which includes its TicketsWest.com, Inc. subsidiary, it engages in event ticket distribution and promotes and presents a variety of entertainment productions. G&B Real Estate Services, its real estate division, engages in traditional real estate-related services, including developing, managing and brokering sales and leases of commercial and multi-unit residential properties.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities law, including statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, projections of future events or performance and underlying assumptions (many of which are based, in turn upon further assumptions). The forward-looking statements in this press release are inherently subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, matters discussed in the company's annual report on Form 10-K for the 2004 fiscal year and in other documents filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.