WHL is a grassroots owned/operated online accommodation and tour booking network with a specialization in aggregating bookable travel content from developing countries and destinations off the beaten path. The company is actually a network of locally owned accommodation and tour booking sites (franchises) in emerging economies. It started life as a project of the World Bank Group and was spun off as a private company about 2 Â½ years ago. As of today WHL has sold franchises in 230 destinations in over 80 countries (see http://sales.whl.travel/ ) of which some 200 + destinations (representing around 6500-7000 accommodations) should be live by end March 2009.
Unlike most new ventures in online travel in the past 4-5 years WHL have been building the business out with a focus on the supply side …… using a business model designed to allow aggregation of bookable content from destinations where some or all of the content requires â€œintermediationâ€ of the supply chain to bring it to market. The â€œintermediationâ€ by WHL’s local franchisee is needed to bridge many needs ….e.g. poor business skills of accommodation owners; lack of Internet access; lack of foreign language skills; absentee landlords for villas and houses etc where our franchisee hold the keys / does the maintenance and airport transfers etc. The result is that WHL is able to bring online many properties others simply canâ€™t because they typically rely on the owners/managers to do the content loading and inventory management etc.
Recently WHL added self catering accommodations to the products sold (see two examples here http://www.nevis-hotels.travel/ and http://www.boracay.travel/ ). The web marketing strategy is built around both securing high organic rankings on Google for destinations specific keywords combined with affiliate marketing via established travel brands such as Lonely Planet, Real Travel, Holidaylettings.com, Onetime, Kayak etc.