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USO, Dolce Vita Bring Online B&B Booking to Military

Dolce Vita Lodging and the United Services Organization (USO) Naples have joined forces to offer online booking for Italian bed-and-breakfast lodgings to US and NATO service members throughout Europe, organization officials announced Tuesday.

"The partnership brings to the USO direct access to the most comprehensive database of Italian bed-and-breakfast lodgings on the Web," said Joseph Walker, director, USO Naples. "In turn, it allows us to offer these accommodations to the local American and NATO military communities, as well as those throughout Europe, including the US Sixth Fleet, which covers the Mediterranean region."

The USO is a non-profit charity organization that assists US military and NATO members in the realm of moral and welfare activities. Founded in 1941 by President Roosevelt, the USO has more than 120 centers around the world, including several offices in Italy.

Since its launch, June 1, hundreds of cost-conscious vacation planners seeking a special place to spend a day, weekend, or week-long holiday in the Italian countryside have turned to Dolce Vita Lodging. The unique Internet portal provides not only online bookings, but holiday planning services.

"The USO partnership," said Amanda Cerbone, Dolce Vita Lodging Administrative Director, "is a major step in our efforts to reach niche markets in Europe. The US and NATO military account for more than one million travelers."

Of the world's top 10 tourist destinations, according to World Tourism Organization, Italy is ranked number four, with nearly 42 million visitors a year. These travelers account for over $27 billion in income for Italian travel-related businesses.

Dolce Vita Lodging has positioned itself to take advantage of Italy's popularity as a travel destination as well as the growth in online bookings. Its extensive bed-and-breakfast offerings, its unique holiday packages, and its one-of-a-kind customer support make this business model unique among online booking agencies.

"Customer service was a major factor in our decision," explained Walker. "The staff of DVL is made up of local nationals and ex-pats who have lived in Italy for several years. They understand the needs of international travelers and the ins and outs of travel in Italy. This allows them to offer expertise in holiday planning as well as bookings."

Already Dolce Vita Lodging has put together weekend packages for USO patrons on wine-tasting, horseback riding, and freelance writing. Currently under development are week-long holidays on Tuscan scenery painting, wine-making, and a haunted week-to be held in a 40-room castle used for several horror films.