Cendant Raises Bar On Internet Role

PARSIPPANY, NJ The Cendant Travel Division is integrating the Internet into its entire business mix by creating the new position of executive vp/Internet and naming Scott Anderson to the post. John Paul Nichols, former head of the high-tech Wingate Inn brand, moves into Anderson s vacated position of executive vp/sales and marketing, Cendant Hotel Division. The news comes on the heels of Cendant Corp. s announcement that it has created the Cendant Internet Group (CIG), to be headed by Samuel Katz, Cendant s former senior executive vp/Strategic Development. Cendant has also recruited former Lehman Brothers senior Internet equity analyst, Brian Oakes to become CIG s vp and chief investment officer. While Anderson s previous title at Cendant was executive vp/sales and marketing/Hotel Division, he had evolved the role into one that heavily incorporated the Internet into the group s marketing programs. Anderson is also widely viewed within the industry as one of a new breed of hotel executive who is technologically savvy and visionary in forecasting the hospitality industry s role in the 21st century. Anderson engineered a deal with California-based Netopia to set up individual property websites for the majority of Cendant s brands, and worked with CAIS Internet to hook up the properties with in-room, high-speed Internet access. He was the brainchild behind Cendant s $75 million Project Power Up system, an extensive program aimed at integrating technology into the every-day workings of Cendant s franchises. While Anderson said it was too soon to speak of specific plans for his new position, he did point to Cendant s recently formed alliance with Liberty Media, which was created to develop Internet and related opportunities associated with Cendant s travel, mortgage, real estate and membership businesses. Liberty Media owns 50% of the Travel Channel, said Anderson, indicating that a future on-line partnership may exist between the Travel Channel and Cendant s travel products. Anderson also noted that except for the airline sector, Cendant s Travel Divisoin is comprised of all components of the travel industry. The travel giant franchises the Days Inn, Ramada (in the United States), Howard Johnson, Super 8, Travelodge (in North America), Villager Lodge, Knights Inn and Wingate Inn brands. Its car- rental franchise, Avis, is acclaimed as the world s second largest car rental franchise system, while its Resort Condominiums International brand is comprised of 3,500 affiliated timeshare resorts worldwide. Speaking generally, Anderson said that the possibility does exist that Cendant could partner all of these franchises with an airline to create a vertically integrated travel company, that would give travelers a one-stop shopping resource on the Internet. That, coupled with the potential use of the alliance with the Travel Channel, would push Cendant beyond the realm of what any other single hotel company has done thus far with the Internet. Anderson said that while other vertically integrated travel companies do exist, they tend to serve more as electronic brochures rather than one center for e-booking. Cendant s real estate division in January made a similar move when it launched Move.com, an Internet portal that brings together Cendant s real estate brands to form a broad-based source for consumers who are moving their residences. The site brings together the real estate listings of Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA and connects to Cendant Mortage, which sells residental mortages in the U.S. Cendant also has a relocation division providing services to Fortune 500 companies. Meanwhile, in his new role, Anderson will be looking across all synergies in the company, he said. We now have 43 websites in Cendant but we haven t taken advantage of them in terms of technology and platforms, he said. Anderson said that he has strong, existing relationships with the electronic marketing teams of Cendant s hotel, Avis and RCI brands, wit