Publicis Dialog scoops hotel launch

NEW YORK - Publicis Dialog has been named agency of record for Travelweb, a hotel discounter owned by five top hotel chains.

The account will be handled by Publicis' office in Dallas, where Travelweb is based. The agency will focus on creating a national branding effort for Travelweb's new website, as well as generating sales and marketing materials. Publicis is also charged with handling trade show efforts, as well as media and analyst relations.

Publicis will help launch the site -- www.travelweb.com -- on October 29, beginning with a media tour in New York. Consumer awareness campaigns will follow.

Originally called Hotel Distribution System, Travelweb is owned by Hilton Hotels, Hyatt, Marriott International, Six Continents Hotels, Starwood Hotels, and technology provider Pegasus Solutions.

Similar to the airlines banding together to create Orbitz, Travelweb represents the hoteliers' attempt to sell inventory directly to consumers rather than going through third-party web distributors.

The new site specializes in offering discounts straight from member and affiliate hotels' central reservations systems. Main competitors include Expedia and Hotel Reservation Network, both of which have established brand names. Hotels.com is also making headway in the market, backed by a new advertising campaign.

The stakes are high for the hotel chains. Company-branded websites such as www.marriott.com have not gained popularity with consumers, leaving the hoteliers largely out of the rapidly growing e-commerce travel market.

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