Travel agents in China can now perform electronic bookings of some Starwood properties because Pegasus Solutions andÂ TravelSky, the Chinese govenment-owned global distribution system, established a tie-in to the Pegasus hotel switch May 3.
“We want to roll our whole inventory in,” says Steve Lapekas, executive vice president of corporate business development for Pegasus, referring to its hotel inventory of almost 100,000 properties. “The challenge is you just don’t flip it on.”
One of the challenges for big chains seeking to take advantage of the new ties is that they have to ensure their product is available in Chinese, Lapekas says.
He adds that the TravelSky agreement is part of Pegasus’s push into emerging markets, with India a focus, as well.
Starwood is connecting to TravelSky through Pegasus, rather than through its own direct-connection, and Starwood is the first Pegasus customer to go live with the new connection.
With its nine brands, Starwood counts more than 1,000 hotels in its portfolio, and the hope is to make them available to the more than 7,000 travel agents using TravelSky in China.
“Today the burgeoning middle class is not only traveling domestically, but has also expanded their travel beyond Chinese borders,” says Qian Jin, senior vice president, operations, greater China for Starwood. “Our hotels in China will continue to reap the rewards of domestic and inbound travel, and our global portfolio will tap growing outbound demand through the Pegasus-TravelSky connection.”
Some of Starwood’s properties in China are available in TravelSky, with properties in Europe likely to be next to go live.
Pegasus-owned Utell Hotels, with its more than 250 properties in China, will likely be the next brand that Pegasus makes available to TravelSky.
The Pegasus-TravelSky connection comes as the latter is growing its global hotel access.
While regional players have been connected to TravelSky at the property level, clearly the Pegasus and Travelport ties, as well as an InterContinental Hotels Group direct-connect, mean agents and travelers in China will increasingly get access to global chains.
TravelSky is both a distributors and supplier, having long controlled the airline market in China.
“With Pegasus, we now address the hospitality needs of our 1.2 billion customers by allowing them to book a variety of hotels anywhere in the world,” says QiangXue, TravelSky’s vice president, tour and transport solutions.
Outside of China, hotels in Europe in cities where Chinese like to vacation, will probably be seeing the benefits first.
Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Property Trust, recently informed financial analysts that average daily rates in certain European cities are increasing because of an influx of Chinese travelers.
Lapekas of Pegasus says one difference in its TravelSky relationship versus those with other GDSs is that hotels which don’t have agreements with TravelSky will see bundled pricing, including TravelSky and Pegasus fees, instead of separate Pegasus and GDS fees, as is the norm.
He adds anecdotally that during the development work, sometimes the language barrier added complexity, but any difficulties diminished when the two teams began discussing and sharing software code.
Some things are universal.