Saturday, October 4, 2003

Booking a Warren County hotel room just got easier



By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Traveling to Warren County just got easier, thanks to new online feature that gives vacationers the capability to reserve hotel rooms in "real time."

The Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau is using the search engine TravelHero to power the new online reservation system on its Web site, www.ohio4fun.org.

Since Sept. 25, users have been able to locate information about area hotels and immediately book a room using a credit card.

"This is kind of the same premise as a Hotels.com or Expedia.com, where someone can go online and choose what hotel they want to stay at and at what price and they can enter the information they want," said Cheryl Roysdon, director of advertising.

Employees at participating hotels do not have to do anything to ensure a room has been booked.

"When someone books online, the hotel gets a fax and e-mail" (from TravelHero Roysdon said.

TravelHero is a full-service Internet travel agency. However, if users search for hotels using the "book a hotel" link on the bureau's Web site, they are not directed to another location.

TravelHero was chosen as the online booking reservation system for the bureau's Web site because it was successfully used during the CincyFun campaign.

The CincyFun program is an annual summer marketing drive designed to bring vacationers to the Cincinnati area. Tourism officials pull together their marketing dollars to promote the 50 hotels and area attractions, which include Paramount's Kings Island, The Beach Waterpark, Waynesville antiques stores, the Newport Aquarium, BB Riverboats and the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Already, 95 percent of area hotels have added their information to TravelHero, according to Roysdon.

Renee Wuerdeman, director of sales at Kings Island Resort and Conference Center, said reservations have increased since the bureau began using TravelHero for CincyFun.

"Anytime that you can have reservations coming in over a computer system, it is going to save time on your front desk," she said. "People are getting so accustomed to making their own reservations through the Internet that anytime you are out there and available it is a great thing for the hotel."

The bureau will offer discounted packages for guests who place online reservations at area hotels, Roysdon said.

"We will work with the hotels on which tickets they can and will offer," Roysdon said. "(Guests) pay one price and they get an entire vacation."

Roysdon and Drexel hope the packaging option helps alert guests to the year-round attractions in Warren County.

"The packaging portion will allow us to kind of advertise those events a little more," Roysdon said. "We want people to know that after Kings Island closes, Warren County is not dead."




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