accommodation & travel portal
whl.travel is a global online travel-booking network. It is the springboard for independent consumers headed off the beaten path and yearning to book travel through local businesses, no matter how small, and often in the developing world.
whl.travel was first launched in 2002 as a development project of the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) with the objective of connecting small operators (accommodations, tours and activities) to the web who would otherwise not have access. Often Internet access is poor (or expensive) and /or the local travel service providers lack the skills to enter the online world. In these cases the local whl.travel portal operators arranges to take photos and collect written content and then creates an online presence. In addition the whl.travel portal operator processes bookings on the travel provider’s behalf and collects payments from travellers to remit to the providers. The company grew quickly in the period from 2002 to 2007 and at one stage operated in over 300 destinations globally with over 5000 accommodations and 2000 tour / activity providers using whl.travel as their only channel to market. As internet penetration has expanded, costs reduced and the skill levels of local travel providers improved, travel service providers have increasingly been able to tap into new channels for sales such as their own websites, and third party OTA channels like Booking.com and Expedia. The WHL group, responding to this shift in the needs of small travel service providers, moved to developing the low-cost tools they needed for the next step in the journey (websites, booking engines and distribution/channel managers) with the launch of Hotel Link Solutions and Connectours.org. WHL also invested in some new niche branded channels to market for local tour operators (Urban Adventures) and ground transport services (Green Path Transfers).
whl.travel (Worldhotel-link.com Limited) was spun off from the IFC as a private company in March 2006 and today still operates in around 100 destinations.