NB: This is a guest article by Tom Botts, managing partner at Hudson Crossing.
Room77, often miss-thought of as a content play for its cool room images, has added a new feature cementing its place as the most innovative hotel search player out there.
Make no mistake, Room77 is a meta but it also allows users to book rates directly at the site in an Amazon-style hybrid kind of way – buy direct or via the marketplace.
But aside from actually facilitating bookings, what makes Room77 unique is that it show retail rates, merchant rates, AAA (American Automobile Association) and senior rates side-by-side in the primary search ‚Äď no one else does this!
Priceline pioneered the co-mingling of merchant and “pay when you stay” rates (and still maintains this competitive advantage) when it began showing Booking.com-sourced rates within search results – but Room77 is taking it to a whole new level.
In this example, Room77 has turned up rates that beat Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity by substantial margins at such storied New York hotels as the Marriott Marquis and the Omni Berkshire Place by pulling in AAA and senior rates.
Most hotel chains hide these rates by making consumers ask for them, whilst the OTAs simply don’t have them at all.
Anyone of age can book a senior rate and with over 50 million members, there are probably a lot of AAA members who can benefit from these rates who may not have known about them.
Joining AAA to benefit from these rates could pay for itself in just one stay (obviously, joining the ranks of senior citizens is not so easily accomplished – and vanity may interfere!)
And did I mention that AAA and senior rates are not pre-paid and earn loyalty points? Room77 also highlights this important differentiation versus the OTAs.
The most disruptive thing about all this is the retail rates – finally, someone is showing regular retail rates as well, offering consumers yet another source of rates usually only found with traditional travel agents. And yes, there are deals to be found here too – and all without a pre-pay and with loyalty points.
Don’t confuse Room77′s own booking capabilities with those of Kayak. Kayak simply white labels Travelocity rates and sells them direct. Room77 is pulling actual retail rates from the Global Distribution Systems.
As a quick aside, a shout out to Room77 and real transparency for admitting when they don’t have the best rate (shown in the bottom example at the Carlton which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.)
Room77 not only now has by far the largest number of price comparisons across online multiple booking channels, but also now has rates not often found anywhere else with ease. And good rates at that.
The Marriott example above clearly shows why meta, when done right, is so important in the hotel industry. In spite of best rate guarantees, single image inventory promises and other marketing positioning, large differences do exist if you know where to look.
Clearly, Room77 knows where to look.
NB:¬†This is a guest article by Tom Botts, managing partner at¬†Hudson Crossing.