WHL Expression of Interest (EOI) Phase II Guide
accommodation choices for the independent traveller
Introduction 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
whl.travel EOI Process 2.1
whl.travel Competitive Advantage â€“ What makes whl.travel Different? 3.1 3.2 3.3
Tourism Development Project Fully Independent Traveller (FIT) Sustainable Tourism Marketplace Operator (MPO)
What makes whl.travel Unique? Benefits of Being an MPO Benefits of Being a Member of the whl.travel Network
MPO Obligation & Fees 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5
MPO Obligations Destination Web Site(s) Establishment Destination Web Site Operations Where whl.travel Traffic comes from? MPO Engagement Fee
Minimum Service Standards
Appendix - Media Coverage
Appendix - The Geotourism Commitment
Appendix â€“ whl.travel Platform
Foreword In an effort to prepare a potential Marketplace Operator (MPO) for the next step in the Express of Interest (EOI) process, this guide was created to provide the MPO with additional information about whl.travel and what the MPO obligations entail. This guide also outlines the criteria which will be utilized to select the most suitable candidate to own and operate a WHL web site(s) in the selected market. 0.1
Acronyms Throughout this document you will find the following acronyms used: EOI: FIT: IFC: MPO: NPA: SMME: WHL: SEO:
Expression of Interest Fully Independent Traveller International Finance Corporation (a subsidiary of the World Bank) Marketplace Operator Network Partner Agreement Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Worldhotel-link Search Engine Optimisation
Confidentiality This guide, in its entirety, is to be considered confidential. Any disclosure, copying or distribution of this guide or any section thereof is strictly prohibited without the express written consent of whl.travel.
1.0 Introduction 1.1
Tourism Development Project whl.travel (WHL) wishes to appoint a project partner, known as an MPO, to implement an online accommodation, tour and activity booking web site(s) for the selected marketplace as part of its initiative to develop sustainable tourism in the region thereby benefitting local communities. whl.travel is committed to ensuring local small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) owners and operators of accommodation facilities in the region are provided an opportunity to access the growing independent traveller market, using the Internet to plan and book travel. whl.travel was established as a donor-funded project by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank. As of March 2006, WHL was privatized as it became apparent that it was no longer a developmental project, but a viable and profitable business model that creates an innovative market channel in the global tourism sector. whl.travel is today a partner with a number of groups like Lonely Planet, National Geographic, WorldAtlas and Pepy Ride and continues to receive media coverage in publications such as TIME Magazine and Lifestyle+Travel Magazine. Originally created for developing and emerging markets, WHL understands that market penetration in all regions of the world is vital to reinforce the very essence of their strength - a global network of local MPOs with a common vision and a common goal to offer travellers unique destination choices. whl.travel is committed to maintaining its founding concept: Offering a web based e-business solution focused on the Fully Independent Travel (FIT) market for SMMEs in the tourism sector. whl.travelâ€˜s platform and business model are designed to emphasize long term solutions to sustain the social, cultural, environmental and economic integrity of an MPOâ€˜s destination. Simply put whl.travel wants MPOs who care about their country, their destination, the travellerâ€˜s experience and the overall stewardship of their native land to ensure it will be preserved for generations to come.
Fully Independent Traveller (FIT) By definition, a Fully Independent Traveller or FIT is a person who plans their travel experience independently from a tour group or packaged travel offering. The FIT is the core customer of WHL. The travel industry has seen a dramatic shift of travellers who traditionally book their travel experiences with store-front tour agents/operators to independently arranging their travel needs through the Internet in the past five years. As the number of Internet websites in the travel industry continues to grow, offering travellers a wealth of knowledge, resources, products and services to meet their travel needs, tour agents/operators began to see a shift in the marketplace; thus the creation of the FIT market. However, there were still many unanswered questions for the FIT and the SMME:
FIT: How do I find places I can book online in remote or off-the-beaten-track destinations? How do I ensure that my dollars and/or euros are staying in the destinations I visit and not leaving the local community profiting a business in the developed world? How can I find a unique travel experience where I am not simply visiting a location and taking a picture or writing a postcard, but truly become part of the community and submerging myself in local customs and traditions? How do I find tour operators that care about their destination and offer related travel experiences ensuring that my presence before I visit and after I visit does not adversely affect that destination? SMME: How do I find FITs to experience my country, region and city destination? What experiences do FITs want when travelling and how do I engage my accommodation and other service providers to embrace a sustainable tourism approach? How do I compete in the FIT market when I am an SMME with a web site that is buried on page 10 or 20 on Google and Yahoo? How do I efficiently find referral partners to increase my business in the FIT market? WHL came into being to bridge the gap between the FIT and the SMME in the developed world and has answered these questions by creating an e-business platform that offers both parties solutions to meet their needs; thus providing a unique online network of locally owned and operated web sites that are globally connected to benefit the FIT and the SMME. 1.3
Sustainable Tourism Sustainable tourism covers three key areas and can be quite simply defined as: “...Improving the destination through social/economic, historical/cultural, and environmental actions or initiatives today in an effort to ensure that the tourists and residents of tomorrow are still able to enjoy what makes the destination unique.” WHL‘s core values are built around supporting sustainable tourism initiatives. We are actively seeking out prospective MPOs who either currently engage in activities aligned with these values, or have plans to do so in the future. For small SMMEs already competing in a difficult market, finding ways to differentiate themselves on the Internet is a challenge. Travellers today are discerning enough to expect a quality travel experience regardless of the price and the facility. The only opportunity to succeed is to offer unique travel experiences. One of whl.travel‘s highest priorities is for MPOs to embrace, create and implement a sustainable approach. The WHL vision is to ensure MPOs, the accommodation/service providers and FITs are working to together to sustain that specific destination.
MPOs are required to assist their service providers and accommodations to not only discover existing approaches and practices they did not realize were sustaining their local community; but to also create new initiatives in their destination. MPOs must fully understand what sustainable tourism is and how it is practiced. whl.travel will only select an MPO in a destination that has a working knowledge of sustainable tourism. 1.4
Marketplace Operator (MPO) An MPO becomes responsible for the ownership and management of a destination web site and forms a relationship with whl.travel which is effectively a ―franchise‖ relationship. Destination web sites are built for a specific tourist destination, as defined by whl.travel. One MPO can own and operate more than one destination web site, however they will be required to show destination knowledge and be able to sufficiently service the requirements of whl.travel in order to obtain multiple web sites. In the ―Franchise‖ Relationship:
MPO web sites are part of a global network. They are provided professional web marketing support and significant referral traffic. MPOs are able to offer ‗bookings on demand‘ allowing them to work directly with the accommodation, tours and activity providers without having to commit to inventory or allotments if they choose. MPOs are the traveller‘s ‗local connection‘, giving the FIT a wide range of products and services with personalized care and attention and someone to call on with questions or specific needs. The MPO owns their own domain or URL, not whl.travel. whl.travel assists MPOs with the registration but in keeping with the franchise system, ownership of the web site‘s domain remains with the MPO. The MPO generates revenue through the commissions and fees they set on their travel service products: accommodations, tours, activities, transfers and events. The financial (billing) set-up of an MPO‘s web site is their decision. The platform is very flexible as it is understood that some markets are not as developed as others when it comes to processing revenues generated. Web sites are linked globally and updated daily and the MPO has remote access to their web site at all times to manage it effectively. The back-end support collects and maintains member information; processes all travel related services, bookings and earned commissions for the MPO. MPOs are part of a global network and no matter which destination in the whl.travel network a traveler selects all MPOs are responsible for maintaining a specific set of customer service standards. whl.travel has created the Rewards & Recognitions Program to acknowledge MPOs who set the bar for customer care and web site management.
2.0 whl.travel EOI Process 2.1
Process Overview Tender: Project: Process:
Tourism Development Project - Private Sector Establishment of a Destination Web Site Phase I through Phase IV
Phase I - Application 1. Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) 2. Review of Potential MPO Applications 3. Criteria to Qualify for Phase II: a) Suitable years of experience b) Web site / Internet knowledge c) Target market d) Market coverage area e) Sustainable tourism facilitation f) Commitment to project and references 4. Selection of potential MPO candidates for Phase II. 5. Candidates provided with EOI Process - Phase II Guide for review.
Phase II - Interview 1. Interviews conducted with MPO candidates (either personal or telecom interviews will be scheduled). 2. Interview evaluation and destination selection of MPO candidates for Phase III.
Phase III - Terms of Engagement 1. Network Partner Agreement (NPA) disclosed and agreed with MPO candidate(s) for agreed destination(s). 2. Terms of engagement and induction timeline agreed.
Phase IV - Induction Program (to Implementation Process) 1. MPO provided with WHL Starter Packet 2. Project implementation timeline set with MPO for system training and destination web site(s) launch date
3.0 whl.travel Competitive Advantage – What makes whl.travel Different? 3.1
What makes whl.travel Unique?
Capability of bringing online multiple accommodation providers in the developing world that would otherwise not have any online presence. A local connection in every destination, allowing travellers to have direct communication with people in the destination (via Skype, LivePerson, email, telephone, etc). WHL operates a ―global-local‖model in every destination, with global branding and market access, but with the benefits of commissions, jobs and skills staying in the destination. It is the largest web-based tourism franchise model. WHL is composed of a large amount of tourism professionals around the world, presents an efficient way to access the global market, and joins operators who share common goals and objectives. WHL offers an evaluation system for sustainable tourism initiatives, and also for service providers looking to service the market of independent travellers demanding a unique experience, especially in the developing world. The control panel has been built with a suite of management tools in order to properly manage the franchise system (benchmarking, secured online payments, etc). WHL has partnerships and affiliations with globally recognized brands (ieLonely Planet, National Geographic Travel, Google, World Nomads,World Atlas.com, etc.). WHL offers a complete package of managing reservations and requests, through the advanced booking system and the continual support and training of the local MPOs. WHL is building a network with a focus on the independent traveller market, that prefer to book with local accommodation and tour providers (as opposed to large global chains) which leaves more money in the local destination. The WHL Model is very different from other centralized booking systems such as Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz (these models do not have a local presence and are unable to offer any type of local, personalized service or ‗off-the-beaten-track‘ products).
Benefits of Being an MPO
The MPO has exclusivity within their destination, as agreed upon in the partnership agreement/contract. The destination website is part of a global network. The local websites are provided with professional web marketing, content editing, training and referral traffic from partner sites. MPOs are the ―local connection‖ for travellers, and offer them a large range of products and personalized service, all targeted to the specific needs and demands of the FIT (Fully Independent Traveller) market The MPO makes money through commissions on bookings of the various products featured on the portal, such as accommodation, tours, activities, packages, transfers, insurance, events, etc The creation of a global network allows the possibility of B2B partnerships with a multitude of like-minded tourism professionals around the world.
Benefits of Being a Member of whl.travel Network There are many, but in summary:
Additional Income You will have a new channel for selling to the growing FIT segment of the market. This will bring additional income to your business for a very small capital outlay and with no additional risk in paying for monthly charges when there is no income. WHL will also start working in the B2B area in 2009, providing the ability for outbound operators/travel agents in supply countries to work online with WHL partners to package product for their clients. New Skills WHL provides a range of training in both web marketing and business development to help you grow your business. The skills you will learn are valuable for all your business activities, not just those relating to working with WHL. Networking All of the partners in the WHL network are running businesses just like yours. Some are very large companies, some are very small but all have joined WHL with a shared vision of promoting sustainable tourism; and with a shared vision of how powerful this network can be if we all work together. It is many small parts making a very large global whole… with everyone benefitting from the strength of the network. We arrange regular regional meetings and also have started attending global trade shows such as ITB where WHL had a stand in 2008 We send out regular monthly newsletters with tips and network news Supporting a private global blog site for all partners to communicate with each other in a transparent and collegial environment.
4.0 MPO Obligation & Fees 4.1
MPO Obligations Should the MPO candidate pass the interview, Phase III will entail reviewing the Terms of Engagement. Prior to proceeding to this phase, prospective MPOs should fully understand their obligations to whl.travel.
MPOs shall use their best endeavours to ensure that all services offered: o Comply with local laws and customs. o Are truthfully represented to customers and members. o Are provided in a timely and professional way, meeting the minimum service standards set by whl.travel. o Are provided without favour and on reasonable terms to members o Membership is not restrictive or biased against any select group of accommodation or other travel service providers within the agreed territory. Undertake to provide the content required for launching the web site(s) within four (4) months of the conclusion of the Network Partner Agreement (NPA). Operate the system in accordance with the instruction and guidelines furnished by WHL during the Implementation Process (training). Undertake to ensure that they meet the minimum service standards set by whl.travel as detailed in the ―whl.travel Benchmarking and Performance Standards Manual‖ and any subsequent amendments. Actively promote the service to both customers and members and will not discriminate against some travel service providers in favour of others. Pay the service charges in accordance with the requirements detailed in the NPA.
Destination Web Site(s) Establishment whl.travel will provide all the tools needed to set-up and operate the web site(s). The total cost for the establishment of each destination web site is 11,400 EUR, which is covered by the whl.travel. Covered by this cost are the following:
Destination web site design and testing. Training on content collection including accommodations, tours and activities. Online destination web site technical training and ongoing support. Web marketing, SEO and ongoing marketing support (A 3-month paid web marketing campaign on Google Adwords and Overture). Training on operation of the online booking system including referral tracking, billing systems and so on. Web site content editing and ongoing support and web site content management. Global product, implementation and ongoing support for the MPO. Regional product, implementation and ongoing support for the MPO. Secure hosting and provision of payment gateway facilities will SSL encryption. Web site design, testing and management of the MPO‘s corresponding country web site
with the capacity to offer travellers booking choices that navigate to their destination web site of choice within that country. Final product delivery and hard launch of the MPO‘s destination web site(s) and corresponding country web site.
Destination Web Site Operations There is a monthly charge to each MPO to cover the ongoing costs of providing the whl.travel Product and management and marketing support, for which whl.travel will continue to provide the following:
A fully maintained technology platform including the Content Management System (CMS), Booking Management System (BMS), front-end interface (web site), reporting modules and so on; as well as regular upgrades to each of these components of the system. Market exclusivity for the MPO‘s destination web site(s). Operational tools, manuals, guidelines, systems and standards for the running of the destination web site(s). Ongoing physical and online training, technical and operational support as well as content support, SEO and editing. Global marketing and affiliate partner deals. Regional and global network and networking possibilities including conferences, workshops and regular meetings (both physical and online).
Currently the maximum charge is US$ 400 per month and whl.travel reserves the right to increase this fee over time. Increases, where they become necessary, will be gradual and in keeping with inflationary pressures and will in no case exceed 5% per annum. The actual monthly fee whl.travel will charge is based the classification assigned to your destination and on the traffic whl.travel generates for your site. We use total user sessions as determined by Google Analytics (see below) as the basis for our calculation and you will be provided access to Google Analytics data for your own verification.
Google Analytics Screen Shot
Destination Classification. The amount of income a destination will generate per accommodation booking is a function of the average price of a room and the typical length of stay for travellers. For example if the average room rate in your destination as reflected on your site is US$150 and the average length of stay is 4 nights, then an average booking value will be US$600. Another destination may only have average room rates of say US$30 and average length of stay 2 days giving an average booking value of US$60. In these examples, the first destination is generating 10 times the income per booking as the latter destination, so we have come up with four categories of destination to reflect the broad price bands. a. b. c. d.
Category A Destination. Average booking value under US$150 Category B Destination. Average booking value from US$151 to US$300 Category C Destination. Average booking value from US$301 to US$450 Category D Destination Average booking value above US$450.
(Note: When a new destination is set up, whl.travel will make the initial classification based on an assessment of the typical room rates in your destination and an average length of stay of 3 days (across the whole whl.travel network average stays are 4.5 days). As bookings start to occur, whl.travel will revise the initial classification taking account of actual booking data and will advise you of any change in classification as well as the basis for the calculation)
Traffic. From historical data across all whl.travel sites, it takes around 31 visitors (i.e. unique visitors to your web site) to generate one accommodation booking request (inquiry). In turn, it takes an average of approximately 2.1 inquiries to generate one confirmed & completed booking. Dependent on the classification of your destination (see above) it will take (typically) between 1 and 5 completed bookings per day (i.e. between 2,000 and 10,000 unique visitors per month) to be able to support the full whl.travel monthly operation charges and also return you a good margin, so we are looking to be able to generate enough traffic to hit this target as soon as we can. Traffic builds gradually as things like Google and Yahoo search engine rankings climb and as referral traffic from linked sites (other whl.travel sites and external web sites) grows. Some sites do very well within the first year however; most destinations take up to two years to get to a point where they are generating US$2000 or more per month in commission income. The actual monthly charge whl.travel will levy can be calculated from the table below: Unique Visitors/Month (‘000’s) Category A
Category 0-0.5 B $0 C $0 D $0
0.5-1 $50 $100 $150
1-1.5 $150 $250 $300
1.5--2 $200 $350 $400
2 – 2.5 $300 $400 $400
2.5-3 $350 $400 $400
3+ $400 $400 $400
The idea with the whl.travel monthly fees is that these fees grow as your revenue grows, with the upside for you that whl.travel fees are capped at a maximum of US$400 per month (current). In the beginning, when you are not earning anything, nor do we. This is obviously a powerful incentive for us to grow your business so that we can grow ours. As an example, if whl.travel is generating traffic of 1,800 unique visitors per month for you (and your destination has Classification B), then you will be required to pay whl.travel US$200 per month. In this example, you would typically have processed 58 inquiries and had 28 bookings with an average booking value of say US$220. Your income (assuming a commission of 15%) would be US$924. If you were a category A destination with the same traffic, you would only pay whl.travel US$50 per month but in this case, your average booking value would likely be only around US$70 per booking. Again, assuming your commissions are 15% this means you would have earned US$294 (from which you would have paid whl.travel US$50). In most cases the whl.travel fees will not exceed around 25% of your income, especially when income from tours and activities is included, however we cannot guarantee this will be the case for everyone. Finally as you get more established, results will get better and better for you. For example if you are a Classification B destination and whl.travel is bringing 8000 unique visitors per month, your commission income would be expected to be around US$4055 per month (using the example above), but your whl.travel fees would still be pegged at US$400 (under 10% of your income).
(Special Notes: The above tables are based on average data across the whl.travel network and hence there are bound to be many examples of sites doing better than the average and those doing worse. There are also some destinations in our experience which are so small as to never have the prospect of large number of visitors, but which perform extremely well for our partners. The reasons for the good performance include very high conversion rates (often due to there being no competition), and very high commissions. In such cases, whl.travel does not have the prospect of earning reasonable fees (due to the small traffic volumes). There are also destinations with extreme swings in income between the high and low seasons (e.g making an average of over US$4-5,000 per month in the 6-8 high season months but less then US$600-700 in the low season months). In a year, these sites could generate US$30-40,000 in commissions, but only support enough traffic in 6-8 months of the year to pay the whl.travel maximum whl.travel fee of US$400 per month. In view of these two extremes and in the spirit of the partnership being a win-win one between whl.travel and the MPO, we have set the following caveats to the above rate tables; a. If sites generate $US1,200+ in total commissions in any month (i.e. from any combination of accommodation, tour and activity bookings), they will pay $400 per month regardless of user sessions. The MPO still retains two thirds of the commission income (at a minimum) with the remaining third (maximum) paid to whl.travel. If the monthly whl.travel fees increase from US$400, the monthly MPO income threshold triggering the payment to whl.travel will also be increased accordingly. b. If sites generate in excess of US$24,000 per year in commission income from combination of accommodation, tour and activity bookings, the MPOs will pay the maximum WHL monthly fee for the full year, with any underpayment during the year being payable in arrears after commission income for the MPO for the full year has been determined.
We decided to go with unique user sessions instead of actual bookings for a couple of reasons;
Most important is that we can‘t control booking outcomes. If MPOs have boring product, expensive product, provide poor service; etc.......they don‘t close sales. We can bring customers into their shop (our job), but if they don‘t give the customers what they are looking for, or there are better deals next door (the MPO job), there is not much we can do about this. There are added complications in some markets for whl.travel if we share commissions earned with the MPOs. For example, we run into licensing issues in some cases (we‘d need to hold a travel agent licence in some countries) and in other cases we become liable for things like local bed tax etc. Got very complicated....so best to remain a type of ASP.
Where whl.travel Traffic comes from? whl.travel Traffic comes from numerous sources: Search Engine Optimisation on other search engines: Google has about 70% of global search, and is weakest in the USA where they are almost the same as Yahoo. With Yahoo we normally get good rankings even within the first 6 months (e.g. if you check for Swaziland Hotels on Yahoo we are on the first page after 4 months and ―The Gambia Hotels‖ we are on the first page after only 2 months). WHL is able to do
this because of the ―network effect‖ of the WHL business model. When a new emarketplace operator (MPO) signs up they own the URL. WHL MPOs are almost exclusively inbound tour operators and many of them have existing web sites. All of these web sites are then linked to one another creating a powerful inherent link building mechanism. Referral from other WHL web sites: The WHL web site and also other web sites in the network allow travellers to move easily from one site to the other. So people find these sites and start to look at all the destinations we are in. For countries with multiple destinations, WHL builds and manages a country portal that adds another web site that the user can enter in. In the future WHL intends on reconfiguring the WHL.travel homepage to drive more traffic to the individual MPOs. Referral from WHL Partners: We have deals with global partners like Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Ashoka, WorldNomads. WHL has developed in an in-house affiliate-tracking program that allows for MPOs to generate local linkage programs with partners and for WHL to develop global and regional partners. Some of the most successful WHL partners are small regional airlines. Google Adwords: During the first 3 months after we launch every site we do work on Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site. For example if you type Crimea Hotels into Google you get links down the right hand side of the page (Sponsored links.....advertisements if you like) and also on the top line sometimes. We pay to put you in this area in the beginning (it‘s part of what the set-up fee covers) and at the end of 3 months we let you know how well the advertising worked. For example with Swaziland we just finished his Adword campaign and can now tell him which Adwords were most effective and how much he made in sales for every dollar of Adwords invested.
MPO Engagement Fee Successful applicants will be required to commit to an Engagement Fee for each portal of 2,400 EUR at the time of executing the Network Partner Agreement (NPA)
5.0 Minimum Service Standards 5.1
Background whl.travel supports e-marketplaces for hotels, guesthouses and local tours in developing countries. It provides local partners (franchisees) such as inbound tour companies or local hotel associations with a complete package to get their members online and selling rooms and tours. Each locally owned and operated e-marketplace is linked to a global network of emarketplaces and provided back office services by whl.travel. From its very inception, whl.travel recognized that to succeed in this space (servicing the independent traveller market), service delivery by the network would be a critical factor. This has been implicit in references within the Network Partner Agreement (the agreement signed by all Network Partners) and reinforced during training and other communications from time to time. In 2006 at the first annual conference of Network Partners held in Saigon, Vietnam, it was agreed that ALL Network Partners MUST meet a minimum set of service standards, as they were critical to the success of the network as a whole. This was further endorsed by delegates at the conference held in Siem Reap in March 2007. The purpose of this document therefore, is to articulate the minimum service requirements expected of Network Partners within the WHL network and how these requirements will be measured and supported.
Minimum Service Standards Whilst there are many elements that can support or add to good service delivery, the two minimum requirements expected of ALL WHL Network Partners going forward are: a) Responding to travelers within 24 hours and b) Keeping site content current. These requirements may evolve over time either by agreement during annual conferences or as deemed necessary by the Management of WHL from time to time. 5.2 a Responding to travellers within 24 hours. When a traveller first submits a booking request, the very first message they see on screen is an acknowledgement thanking them for their booking request and advising them that we will respond within 24 hours. Therefore, this is a fundamental and â€•non optionalâ€– element of our service standards, that must be complied with. Our system provides the means to measure response times for each destination for a specified period and Network Partners and whl.travel can run these reports at anytime to monitor progress. The target for minimum response times to travelers is â€“ 95% of ALL booking requests must be responded to within 24 hours.
5.2 b Keeping Site Content Current. Whilst interesting content for whl.travel sites is very important in differentiating our sites from others, it is equally important that the information on the site is current, especially with events, rates and dates etc. Accurate and current information is an obvious area which requires little justification and again one which whl.travel will monitor as part of the minimum service standards, required to be met by Network Partners. 5.2 c Sustainable Tourism All MPOâ€˜s have a minimum of four (4) â€—caring for destinationâ€˜ products on their site prior hard launching. This includes at least one hotel doing something caring and one unique and interesting tour experience. 5.3
Support Commencing in April 2007, these are three of the minimum service standards that will be the focus for the foreseeable future and will be monitored on a monthly basis. In addition, to help encourage Network Partners to focus on meeting these minimum standards, both elements have been incorporated into the whl.travel Reward and Recognition Program. For Network Partners who are initially failing to meet these standards, whl.travel staff will work with you to identify the reasons why and provide any additional support and retraining if necessary, to assist you to meet these standards. However, as a last resort, for Network Partners who continually fail to meet the minimum service standards, even after assistance and training, whl.travel may elect to terminate the Network Partner Agreement in order to protect the business for all partners in the network.
6.0 Appendix – Media Coverage ARTICLE #1OUTCOMES Newsletter International Finance Corporation World Bank Group The travel industry is undergoing enormous change driven by the growth of the internet. It is now estimated that over 70% of travelers in the United States use the internet to research their trips abroad, and of that figure around half will book their trips online. The main attraction is that the internet allows travellers to customize their holiday giving them more flexibility when coordinating their trip - something a packaged tour operator can‘t offer. Travellers book their own flights, accommodation, ground transport, tours and activities. This trend has meant that less people are opting to use the traditional packaged tour business. As a result, this segment of travel that sells products through ‗high-street‘ travel agents or outbound tour operators in the supply countries is either stagnant or shrinking. WorldHotel-Link (WHL) was created to address these challenges, offering an innovative and low cost approach to marketing for the local inbound tour operator, as well as meeting the needs of the independent traveller. Go to: www.ifc.org/ifcext/pepse.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/Newsletter_Outcomes.pdf/$FILE/Newsletter+Outcomes.pdf
ARTICLE #2TIME Magazine: Monday, December 11, 2006 Small World - by Jo Baker The Internet, it was once supposed, would provide a level playing field for businesses big and small, giving each the opportunity to reach a global market. But we know that isn't always the case. Driving large volumes of traffic to a website has become a complex marketing challenge requiring lots of time and money. Seeking to redress the balance—at least as far as the travel industry is concerned—is worldhotel-link.com. Originating in 2002 as a project conducted under the auspices of the World Bank, to help small and medium-sized hotels in the Mekong area access the Internet, the site now provides booking services for locally owned accommodation in around 30 countries. Uniting the hotels—apart from the fact that most are modest in size—is a commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental responsibility. If they stick to these principles, they'll continue reaping the benefits of an "e-marketplace" every bit as slick as the big booking engines. Go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501061218-1568542,00.html
ARTICLE #3Lifestyle+travel Magazine: February 2007 The Caring Web Analysis by Thin Lei Win/IFC Wish you could contribute in some way to the destinations you visit? You‘re not alone: more and more travellers are becoming conscious about their impact of their travel. A new company, Worldhotel-link.com is now setting a grassroots trend for travellers who care for their destinations. The team behind WHL weren‘t content with simply getting accommodation providers online; they were also set on finding a way to help local destinations protect their environment and culture, and improve social outcomes for the community. This interest in building a sustainable tourism industry for developing countries led to an innovative traveller-driven program called ‗Caring for the Destination‘. Go to: http://www.lifestyleandtravel.com/past_issue_article.asp?id=893&issue=36
ARTICLE #4TIME Magazine: Friday, May 11, 2007 Len Cordiner - by Simon Montlake Remember the last time you stumbled on a clean, comfortable family-run guesthouse in a far-flung corner of the globe? The kind of place where the owner serves you tea, calls the train station for you and pins up smiling snapshots of visitors? Now try booking a room there online. Chances are that mega travel aggregators like Travelocity or Expedia won't have that place listed. But Worldhotel-link.com a travel provider based in Hong Kong, just might. If so, you have Len Cordiner, its Australian-born CEO, to thank. Cordiner's brainstorm began in 2002 as a pilot project in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam for the International Finance Corp. (IFC), an arm of the World Bank that provides advice and backing for start-ups. A Worldhotel-link.com franchise partner in each destination city provides English-language content for the site and makes sure mouse clicks to the booking engine translate into rock-solid reservations. In some cases, that means a dash down the street to confirm a booking at a phonelessguesthouse. "We call it our digital-to-bicycle interface," says Cordiner. Go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1619568,00.html
ARTICLE #5TravelMole: Friday, September 3, 2007 A new online booking model for improving pro-poor outcomes – WHL WHL(http://www.worldhotel-link.com/ ) is a global travel booking site with a focus on the developing world and improving pro-poor outcomes. Although now a private company since March 2006, WHL started life as a project of the IFC (part of the World Bank Group). The project was piloted in the Mekong region between 2003 and 2006 with the aim to bring small SME accommodation providers online who were missing out on the growth in travel to the region.
These SMEs often had very interesting, comfortable and competitively priced accommodations, but with no visibility to travellers, poor English language skills, poor Internet knowledge and/or access ended up relying on the walk-in trade or touting at airports and bus stations to get customers. The way the challenge was addressed by WHL was not to try and build the capacity of the SMEs directly, but rather to find a local intermediary (tour operator or industry association) with Internet access and computer skills, plus English language knowledge to act as a hub for the cluster of local accommodation providers. WHL skilled up the intermediary and they bridged the gap in language and Internet skills between foreign travellers and the local accommodation providers. Go to: http://www.travelmole.com/stories/1122005.php?mpnlog=1
ARTICLE #6South Pacific Tourism Organization Newsletter: March 11-16, 2007 Tourism E-Bookings Nearly Double (Samoa) The number of tourists booking accommodation in Samoa on-line has nearly doubled in the past twelve months, demonstrating a strong need to maintain up-to-date websites for visitors overseas, according to CEO of the Samoa Hotel Association, Nynette Sass. The Samoa Hotel Association (SHA) recently reported a 90.25% increase in the number of ebookings in 2006 compared to 2005. ―On average the SHA website achieves 1500 website hits a day, that‘s over half a million hits a year. These hits are transferring into actual tourism customers visiting our country, and spending money with our accommodation providers, and in Samoa‘s restaurants and shops. That‘s great news for Samoa‘s tourism industry,‖ says Ms Sass. The Samoa Hotels Association website features an on-line booking system via WorldHotel Link – an online booking service to travellers and accommodation providers. ―We have been very pleased with our partnership with WorldHotel Link. Not only do they provide the platform to generate on-line bookings for our members, but the system allows SHA to ascertain where tourists are coming from, and gives us an insight into their web-based activity within our site. This allows to carefully target the right people who are potential visitors to our country. Go to: http://spto.org/news/press/NewsLetter_Mar_2007_163.shtml
7.0 Appendix - The Geotourism Commitment The Geotourism commitment, which is funded by whl.travel, National Geographic and Ashoka, is used to demonstrate, how communities around the world can use geotourism to help alleviate poverty, promote sustainable stewardship of places and tourism-related assets, and minimize negative environmental and social impacts that are often associated with mass tourism development. National Geographic defines geotourism as â€•tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place â€” its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.â€– See http://changemakers.net/en-us/competition/geotourism
8.0 Appendix â€“ whl.travel Platform 8.1
Screen shot of the whl.travel Platform - Interface
Screen Shot of the whl.travel Platform - Internal Control Panel