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Online portal a one-stop shop (3/03)

By MARK LADAN PARRY SOUND - More and more, it seems one cannot turn on television or radio, or open a newspaper or magazine, without seeing, hearing or reading an ad promoting an online travel service.

By MARK LADAN

PARRY SOUND - More and more, it seems one cannot turn on television or radio, or open a newspaper or magazine, without seeing, hearing or reading an ad promoting an online travel service.

In the last few years, it has become increasingly easier to book vacations on the Internet.

Now, the Parry Sound area is getting into online vacation bookings with help from INNsystems Reservation Network. INNsystems is a member of Laurentian Media Group, a multi-media publishing company.

Anyone with Internet access can book a holiday in the Parry Sound area, through INNsystems portal on www.parrysound-irn.com. It is promoted as a one-stop online resource for local tourism information. From the comfort of one’s own home one can access dozens of hotels, resorts and bed and breakfasts through the system, which is hosted by www.parrysound.com, an affiliate of the Parry Sound North Star.

“Our involvement with INNsystems is simple,” says North Star general manager Fred Heidman. “We see this as an opportunity to promote tourism for the Parry Sound area. It allows people to go on the Internet and make reservations at any of the accommodations in the area and to book in to any special events that might be taking place.

“It fully promotes the market area, so that we will get more traffic here and more tourism coming to Parry Sound through a click on (the Web site). It makes it nice and easy to book in. We see this as a lead opportunity to get on the ground floor to promote the Parry Sound area and bring people here.”

INNsystems offers a simple and easy way for people to book vacations in the area, parrysound.com advertising consultant Shelly Hodgson says.

“The system does exactly what it claims to do,” Hodgson says. “It provides travellers already interested in a particular region with all the accommodation details they need so they can make an informed choice and instantly check room availability.”

The Parry Sound connection was rolled out at a public presentation a few weeks ago. In attendance was Parry Sound town councillor Jamie McGarvey, who says this is the type of initiative that should have been done years ago.

“This is a great business tool and will be a great asset for local accommodations,” says McGarvey. “If we had this 10 years ago, think of the growth we could have experienced.”

Dorothy Schrader is one of the owners of Silver Lake Cottage Resort, south of Parry Sound. She placed her business on the INNsystems portal because she says she believes it will produce nothing but positive results for her and her competition.

“If someone tries to book into Silver Lake and we’re full, I hope they will try to get in somewhere else here. It will help keep the tourism dollars here,” says Schrader.

“I think it will also help us stretch our busy season past the summer months. We’re usually full in the summer with many returning customers, so I’m hoping this will increase our business during the shoulder seasons. We’re open year round, but many places aren’t. I believe this will help people find us in the fall, winter and spring.”




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