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Sun 7 Sep 2008 04:00 AM

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Jumeirah and Expedia join forces

Online travel company Expedia has signed a long-term global agreement with Dubai-based luxury hospitality management company Jumeirah Group.

Online travel company Expedia has signed a long-term global agreement with Dubai-based luxury hospitality management company Jumeirah Group.

Under deal terms, all Jumeirah properties will be available on all Expedia- and hotels.com-branded points-of-sale globally.

"This agreement marks an exciting time for our company," said Jumeirah Group chief sales & marketing officer Apo Demirtas.

"With ten luxury hotels open in Dubai, London and New York and luxury properties under development in all the four regions of the world, building our brand's awareness and distribution capabilities through organisations like Expedia will support our continued growth with access to millions of travellers around the world."

All Jumeirah hotels will access Expedia's global online travel marketplace through ExpediaConnect, Expedia's direct connection solution for chain hotels.

In turn, Expedia customers can book accommodation at Jumeirah Group's hotels and resorts worldwide.

The news is bound to make travel agents think about what value they add to travel suppliers such as Jumeirah and how they can compete with global online players such as Expedia.

"The key is that travel agencies have to be able to sell things to the clients that online options can't cater to' they need to find niches," said Jumeirah Group distribution development manager Oliver Fasching speaking at a roundtable on online distribution.

He said agents travel agencies that did not offer specialist knowledge would "disappear". But Jumeirah Group web operations manager Kirsten Spence was more upbeat about the future of travel agents.

"We want to stay ahead of the game, of course that means the internet, but we haven't forgotten about travel agents or the more traditional routes either and I don't think we ever will - particularly not in this region," she said.

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