The Avis Where2,
a GPS system with real-time traffic alerts, is now available nationwide. The roll-out includes over 130 major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. The system notifies drivers of upcoming traffic snarls, construction tie-ups and automatically suggests alternative routes. When available, it also provides information on weather delays.
Avis signed a deal with Autonet Mobile,
a technology company that has developed a portable WiFi device capable of connecting
to the Internet from remote locations. Avis said it would make the Internet devices, which can be used in most major cities, available to renters at a rate of $10.95 a day later this year.
part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, is beginning its international expansion with locations in Montreal and Toronto. The international properties are part of more than 100 in the Americas pipeline, 50 of which are scheduled to open during 2007.
Those properties also include the first mid price extended stay property in New York. The growth plan positions Candlewood Suites to become the largest brand with-in the mid price extended-stay segment, according to the company.
The Grand Hyatt DFW Hotel
began a pilot project with the Transportation Security Administration, under which registered hotel guests can pass through a security checkpoint to reach the retail shops in the secure concourse of Terminal D, which is normally accessible only to ticketed passengers.
The experiment is expected to yield insights for the TSA and other airport, retail and hotel interests about making airport retail areas more accessible.
Homewood Suites, a Hilton brand,
plans to launch a tool that will enable loyalty club members to select their rooms online, in much the same way that airline passengers can select seats online. Homewood Suites said its Suite Selection program would be “the hotel industry’s first interactive room-selection tool.”
The tool will enable members of the Hilton HHonors program to view a floor plan and select a suite based on their preferences – higher or lower floor, near or far from an exit or elevator, etc. Users will also get a bird’s-eye view of the hotel so they can know in advance what direction their room will face and whether the view will be a parking lot, a highway or a park.
In addition, the program will show users landmarks and points of interest, such as nearby restaurants. If a room is not available, that will be immediately apparent, although guests can check availability again upon arrival.
The service, which will be made available in late March, will offer floor plans, photos and descriptions of every room type in the nearly 200 Homewood Suites properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Initially, Suite Selection will be available only to those HHonors members with the highest number of points.
Later, lower-level members will be given access, and be the end of the year all members will have access to the tool. At first, bookers will only be able to select their rooms 24 hours before arrival. Starting this summer, travelers will be able to express a preference for a specific room well in advance.
Within 24 hours before arrival, they will be able to revisit the selection and guarantee it. Hilton expects to extend Suite Selection to other brands in 2008.