RealTime IT News

Travel Channel Takes Off in Germany

German company Gruner+Jahr Electronic Media Service (EMS) is setting up an extensive information and e-commerce platform for private and business travel on the Internet.

Strategic marketing cooperation will be with car rental firm Sixt and airline Lufthansa. Each will provide direct online reservation options at www.travelchannel.de.

Gruner+Jahr, 74.9 percent of which is owned by Bertelsmann, publishes 90 magazines and newspapers in 13 countries including the US. 1997/98 saw them achieve sales of DEM 5.1 billion (US$2.9 billion), 55 percent coming from international activities. The corporation employs 12,000 worldwide.

Travel Channel partners include top G&J magazines: GEO Saison and Brigitte with Polyglott travel guides and gourmet magazine, Der Feinschmecker, all of which belong to the Langenscheidt group.

More than 10,000 pages of travel information will be available to the traveling public. The partners guarantee the quality and currency of the information. An independent editorial staff of three will post breaking news, trends, events and services on this new Internet travel site.

Travel Channel offers users an online travel guide to more than 100 destinations with its unique information infrastructure. The combination of multi-layered information sourced from several providers is new and user friendly, the company said. For example, Polyglott travel information can be combined with weather statistics and restaurant tips for gourmets.

Internet users can reserve almost all flights, package trips, last-minute or special offers, hotels and rental cars on line from one source, rather than having to choose from one travel firm's selection.

Online reservations for all travel options are routed via a call-center run by Hamburg air-travel specialists Aeroworld and travel specialists Derpart. The call-center offers an alternative telephone reservation system to those uncertain about using the Internet.

"No other provider can make this offer in the German-speaking world," said Travel Channel's general manager, Stephan Uhrenbacher. "We now know that 30 percent of today's 6 million users already use online travel reservation services."

"The complexity of the travel product means there is a demand for transparency, which this system meets. It also adds transaction-based funding to inadequate refinancing revenues from advertising and consequently provides a welcome additional source of income," he added.