Centerstone Hotels Selects Whiteboard Labs for CRS and GDS Connectivity, Support

  • SHR
  • 06.14.11
Centerstone Inns, Hotels, and Plaza Hotels, a few of hospitality's newest three-tier brand, has partnered with Houston-based Whiteboard Labs to provide the latest in distribution technology, including its Windsurfer Central Reservations System and "The Ultimate Booking Experience" (TUBE).

As part of the agreement, Whiteboard Labs will provide GDS connectivity, voice reservations, cutting-edge Web design, and vast e-marketing opportunities designed to showcase properties like never before using multi-image and video platforms.

"Whiteboard Labs is a natural fit for the Centerstone brand," said Neal Jackson, Centerstone president. "Not only did the company come highly recommended, but after an exhaustive search we found the Windsurfer CRS to be the best possible solution to help us customize content, process reservations and make it easy for us to sell our three products.  As we ramp up this new hotel chain, we are confident that Whiteboard Labs and the Windsurfer CRS will quickly bring us into the digital 'now,' and in turn, bring customers to our doors." 

Centerstone is a three-segment brand developed by hoteliers to remove any unreasonable mandates on franchisees. Featuring a low cost of entry, low fee structure, short-term agreements, Internet marketing support, a dynamic reservation system, and all the other revenue-generating programs one would expect from a good franchise company, Centerstone hotels is truly a viable franchise alternative.

"One of the many things that makes Centerstone hotels unique is that as a brand, we do not mark-up the reservation fees," said Steve Belmonte, Centerstone CEO and owner. "Many brands add on a mark-up administration fee, but we don't think the Reservation Center should be a profit center. That is one of the many ways that Centerstone is so different from other franchise companies. Instead, we pass the direct savings on to the hotel owner -- and this mentality is adapted throughout much of what we do. The Windsurfer CRS will enable guests and hotel owners to use web-based tools -- including mobile apps -- to truly achieve 'The Ultimate Booking Experience.'"

Belmonte explained that by simply downloading an iPhone app, Centerstone hotel owners using Windsurfer will have on-the-go access to reports generated via the CRS. Now owners can see at a moment's notice just how much business their Centerstone franchise is generating, and at which rates, and through which channels.

"While many franchise companies do not volunteer what they are actually contributing through the RES system, Centerstone is so confident of its performance that we share our contribution frequently with the hotel owners and managers AND give them additional information, such  as rates, method of deliverance, etc.," Belmonte said. "We want our owners to know that we are out there marketing via the Internet for them daily to maximize every opportunity to capture reservations and revenue.

"In addition, some big hotel companies today are eliminating voice reservations altogether and migrating to only Internet-based bookings," he added. "Not Centerstone. Through the Windsurfer CRS, Centerstone will offer both Web-based and toll-free telephone reservations, in order to capture and maximize every revenue opportunity."

Drew Rosser, Whiteboard Labs VP of business development, said his company is unique in that it has both hotels and guests in mind to better zero-in on how hotels meet and market to their guests.

"Because Windsurfer technology is integrated with mobile devices, including iPhone, iPads and also Facebook apps, it enables hotels to capture reservations wherever their guests may be and however their guests are most comfortable making those reservations," Rosser said. "The end result is higher conversion rates and happier guests. By providing today's travelers with 'The Ultimate Booking Experience' or TUBE they are visually creating an itinerary for their booking."

TUBE is a flash-based interface that allows guests to go through a regular booking process while creating it as an itinerary, Rosser explained. The system supports the ability for the hotel to merchandise its services and amenities for a more overall enhanced guest experience. The new iPad version of TUBE, which can be branded for each hotel, works in both portrait and landscape orientations, adjusting the layout as the user rotates the iPad. Among other features, the carousel of room images allows the user to browse rooms by responding to swipe gestures and check-in / check-out dates can be selected from a touchable calendar.

"There are so many cool features within the Windsurfer CRS," Jackson said. "We love that any owner can log-in at any time -- and in a variety of ways -- to see how his or her hotel is performing. In the very near future, owners will be able to alter rates, change close-out dates and manage their inventory from any mobile device and from anywhere in the world. It's a fantastic way to stay on top of performance.

"Likewise, TUBE enables each hotel to up-sell additional amenities to guests after the room and rate have been selected," he added. "When a traveler makes a reservation online and hits the 'submit' button, for example, a pop-up notifies the user that the hotel has other promotions and amenities available that the person may be interested in, such as making a dinner reservation, scheduling a golf tee time or booking a spa appointment. It gives the hotel one more opportunity to sell its services even before the guest arrives at the hotel.  It's a great system, and we are delighted to roll it out to our hotels."

Rosser said he is equally as delighted to be in working in conjunction with Centerstone hotels.

"Whiteboard Labs is extremely honored to be partnering with Centerstone and provide the hotels with our Windsurfer CRS for all of their electronic distribution," he said. "Centerstone was looking for a technology partner that could not only provide the brand with the latest in distribution technology but also offer cutting-edge Web site design and additional innovative tools such as our iPhone CRS app, Facebook booking engine, a mobile booking engine and more.  This brand now has full access to all of our hospitality related products."

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