JackRabbit Systems, Inc., a developer of online travel software for destination and travel portal websites, today announced a partnership with Louisiana Office of Tourism at the Louisiana Tourism Industry Summit being held in Baton Rouge.

"Our partnership with JackRabbit heralds a new era in state-led tourism efforts bringing cities and other tourism arms together to provide a more streamlined approach to providing the best online consumer travel shopping experience possible," said Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. "We are excited to be at the forefront of this vision and a proof point for what's still possible."

Through this partnership, individuals planning visits to the Pelican State will be able to go directly from city or state tourism websites such as www.louisianatravel.com, www.lafayettetravel.com, or www.shreveport-bossier.org to book directly with lodging properties by using JackRabbit's Book › Direct search engine technology- bypassing the online booking fees, hassle and need for other travel agencies (OTAs) like Travelocity or Expedia.

When consumers look for accommodations and go to the state travel website, www.louisianatravel.com, or any of the other city sites participating in the program, they will see the Book › Direct toolbar immediately on the home page and can search by preferred location, and check-in and check-out dates. The booking engine will return the results of the search, including the competitive average rates per night, hotel amenities and type of accommodations available. From there, visitors can compare rates and select their desired lodging. In this case, by clicking on "Book Direct," the user will be transferred directly to the individual hotel website to complete the booking process without paying for the handoff that traditionally exists with third party travel agencies.

JackRabbit's Book › Direct technology allows the Louisiana Office of Tourism and the convention and visitor bureaus in cities across the state to collaborate by using a technology solution that not only creates the best consumer experience, but also generates the most profit for individual lodgings.

Unique to this partnership, JackRabbit's leasing model gives local and regional tourism departments throughout Louisiana a way to create incremental, no-cost referrals for lodging reservations and the program is funded through lodging taxes. OTAs on the other hand, keep a percentage of each room they sell. For lodgings, those dollars are especially important during the current economic downturn when occupancy and American depositary receipts are down.

"This partnership also comes at a critical cross roads for many cities, states, and their lodging providers as their reduced marketing budgets are often split across convention and visitors bureaus, lodging associations and chambers of commerce, which in turn means they treat each other as competition rather than unifying under a ‘government tourism' brand," said Andrew Van Luchene, president and CEO of JackRabbit Systems, Inc. "This competition dilutes their marketing efforts, rendering them ineffective at competing against a large middleman such as Expedia or Travelocity. Louisiana and its cities have taken an impressive stance at creating a stronger brand and it is clearly positioning itself for tourism growth in 2011 and as a leader in the state tourism industry. The idea of city and state tourism departments working together is clearly a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts."

Turning web visits into real life visitors
Using JackRabbit's Book › Direct search engine and database, city and state tourism departments can spend less time maintaining disparate databases and booking solutions and more time promoting their destinations. What's more, JackRabbit has future plans to incorporate mobile applications to complement this broader technology platform for mobile-ready tourism websites.

For more information please visit, www.JackRabbitSystems.com.

About JackRabbit Systems and Book › Direct
JackRabbit Systems develops online travel software for destination and travel portal websites. The Book › Direct search engine from JackRabbit is designed to improve website functionality and usability in order to enhance the visitor's experience and increase room nights in the selected destination on city and state tourism (DMO) websites in North America. Consumers enter dates into the engine to search for rates and availability for rooms and then click to book directly with the lodging properties, rather than an online travel agent. By linking consumers directly to lodging properties to complete their bookings, the Book › Direct search engine creates the best consumer experience for booking rooms that leaves the most profit with the lodging property. Over 400,000 consumers a month use the Book › Direct engine that is embedded on over 200 city and state tourism websites. For more information, visit www.JackRabbitSystems.com.