AOL Checks Into Sheraton

by , Oct 20, 2006, 6:33 AM
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AOL is getting into the hotel business--sort of. The Internet portal has created a co-branded site with Four Points by Sheraton, a budget hotel chain, that will give guests free access to AOL videos, news, music and other content. The new site is being tested first at the Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea Hotel in New York before potential rollout to other Four Points hotels.

The co-branded site will appear as the Internet welcome page on computers in individual hotel rooms and on courtesy terminals in the lobby. In the Four Points' signature "Family Room," guests will also be able to watch AOL Video on a large TV screen connected to a PC.

The partnership with Sheraton is the first time AOL has teamed up with a hotel chain to offer on-site online services. Through the venture, AOL aims to boost awareness of its newly free Internet service. AOL abandoned its paid subscription model for broadband access in August.

A key feature of the AOL/Four Points site is a concierge service that provides information on local attractions, restaurants and events as well as special offers from the hotel. Through a customized AOL CityGuide, guests can also get directions and buy movie and event tickets online.

AOL and Sheraton will decide whether to expand their joint online presence to other hotels based on consumer feedback to the pilot program in New York. The Four Points chain operates 130 properties in 22 countries.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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