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Travelocity Inks Hotel Deal

In a deal that may result in somewhat fewer bargain-priced hotel rooms offered on various Internet sites, Travelocity.com inked an agreement with Six Continents Hotels, a British company that owns more than 3,300 hotel and resort properties worldwide

Six Continents operates a slew of hotel chains, including the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands.

The deal calls for Six Continents to provide Travelocity (owned by Sabre Holdings Corp. ) with seamless direct access to its merchant hotel room inventory via its central reservation system, the Holidex Plus network.

The companies said that "the end result benefits online shoppers and hotels by providing better information for consumers, allowing for room-type selection and improving accuracy in reservations."

But industry observers think the deal may not be quite so consumer-friendly. Six Continents appears to be moving to get better control over its Web inventory.

In the past, individual hotels have often made independent deals to sell rooms wholesale to various Internet travel resellers, including Travelocity as well as discounter Hotels.com and travel site Expedia.com .

After all, as every hotel manager knows, a bed filled even at a discounted price is better than an unoccupied room that makes no money. Now, Six Continents appears to want to make better use of its central reservation system and maintain a little more control.

"This new relationship (with Travelocity) adds value for all parties involved and serves as a model on how to effectively leverage all of the positive attributes that the distributors and hotels have to offer, while mitigating any negatives," said Jim Young, vice president of global distribution for Six Continents Hotels.

The roll out of Six Continents Hotels merchant inventory on Travelocity will begin Feb. 10. Travelocity already has similar deals with Hyatt Corp., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Wyndham International Inc.