room77 rome
1029 days ago
 

Room 77 comes out fighting as Concur reveals investment, pledges to out-Kayak Kayak

The hotel sector is getting rather interesting (and feisty) in 2012, as some predicted, with the likes of Google wading in deeper and the GDSs ramping up their efforts.

And then there are the metasearch engines such as Hotelscombined and Kayak looking for a piece of the action.

Of course, online travel agencies (especially Booking.com) are still immensely powerful players and then, most recently, Room Key crash landed on the scene with a promise of multi-brand search utopia.

On the periphery are the startups, such as Room 77, which launched in a blaze of publicity and has since gone on to raise over $10 million in funding from, amongst others, the backers of ITA Software, General Catalyst.

It now turns out that travel expense management giant Concur (also owner of TripIt) was part of the funding round last summer when it took a minority stake in the business, an investment revealed today when Concur announced record results of its first $100 million quarter in revenue for Q4 2011.

Clearly Concur sees something in Room 77 that it feels is worth taking a punt on.

So with 12 months now passed since launch, and having backers with a pretty high pedigree, on both the investment and operational side of the industry, is Room 77 about to start shouting a little louder?

It would appear so.

Founder and chairman Brad Gerstner says: “We think there’s a lot to be done in hotel metasearch – we’re going to out-Kayak Kayak by focusing like a laser ONLY on hotels just like Hotels.com and Booking.com, but better.”

Fighting talk, indeed.

Back over at Concur, CEO Steve Singh is also talking up his company’s profile, referring to Room 77 as the “Zillow of hotel rooms”.

Zillow co-founder and executive chairman Rich Barton also happens to be an investor in Room 77, of course.

Singh says Room 77 would benefit both hoteliers and their customers if its content about individual hotel rooms could be integrated into hotel CRS and property management systems.

“It would allow hoteliers to monetize their properties at a more granular level and push choice to the end customer,” Singh says.

He believes resistance from hotels would “change over time”. He adds: ”I run a business that gets resistance all the time.”

Concur made a relatively small investment in Room 77 and a “more substantive one” in Taxi Magic, which enables business travelers to purchase ground transportation and integrate the expense into the Concur Expense system.

Singh says two things drive Concur’s investments: the ability to create as much content choice as possible for business travelers, and the ability to make it available to customers.

“If we can help foster that kind of innovation, bring it to market and make it available to our customers, then that delivers a tremendous user experience,” Singh says.

The Concur CEO argues that mobile is blurring the lines between corporate travel and consumer tools.

Singh believes corporate travel policies are diverse and he could see business travelers using Room 77 to pick hotel rooms in conjunction with corporate travel policies.

Alternately, he adds, perks outside the parameters of corporate policy could be billed to business travelers’ personal credit cards.

Asked if he could envision a larger investment in Room 77, Singh says: “What guides us is this: if it is innovative and delivers greater choice to end customers, we are interested in developing it.”

NB: Additional reporting by Dennis Schaal.

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Kevin Fliess

    @michael. Kevin from Room 77 here. To “out Kayak Kayak” you start by searching more sites. Consumers want to see EVERY price in a single search. Kayak claims “search one and done” – but what they do is “search Orbitz and then provide a bunch of pop-ups if you want to see other prices”. No fancy slider can hide that fact. Room 77 searches EVERY online travel agency (Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Booking.com, Priceline, etc) and shows all of the prices and availability in a single search – which results in better prices and more selection for our customers.

    It’s Room 77′s fast and comprehensive search that led a leading search analyst, Greg Sterling, to tweet this week – “From my POV @Room_77 is probably the best hotel search engine out there.”
    As to Room 77′s unique room views and room database, this is helpful data that adds a layer of transparency in hotel booking that didn’t exist a year ago. Even if you don’t need it, others welcome it, having been recognized by many as the most innovative thing to come out of hotel search in years. Attacking a single room view is like attacking Zillow because a single home estimate may be off slightly. It misses the forest for the trees.

    Consumers are loving the fact that for the first time they have a voice in finding and requesting a great room. With Room 77′s free Room Concierge, consumers go from being a random reservation number that often gets assigned a bad room in the hotel, to a special guest that gets special recognition from the front desk. But rather than taking our word for it, listen to what our consumers have to say:

    Received:
    12/29/2011 13:52
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    We had a great room overlooking the Plaza lights. I wouldn’t have know which room to request had I not been able to see the “view” through Room 77.

    Received:
    1/16/2012 11:01
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    Room 77 was so easy to use and compared equally with all other discounts found on search sites. The concierge service was great. For the first time ever I was able to make sure my voice was heard about what kind of room I wanted before standing at the counter. Thank you room 77.

    Received:
    12/31/2011 4:49
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    We asked for a view and a quiet room, and we got it! Our room was on a high floor. And we got our bed preference. I am impressed with Room 77 and will continue to use and recommend it. Thanks!

    Received:
    1/7/2012 6:46
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    It works, i got a room that fits my specs!

    Received:
    1/23/2012 9:14
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    I would never have found this great value room without Room 77.

    Received:
    1/18/2012 2:21
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah!
    General feedback:
    Everything was beyond amazing! the service was excellent, the rooms were big and very clean, and the front desk were so friendly. They gave me an upgrade and the suit was unbelievable!! This was truly one of my favorite hotels. An one of a kind experience!!

    Received:
    12/31/2011 8:29
    Satisfaction:
    Completely satisfied
    Concierge useful:
    Yes
    Got preferred room:
    Yes
    Will recommend:
    Heck Yeah
    General feedback:
    The entire purchasing procedure is simple and straightforward, offering more options than other hotel websites without affecting price. Our room matched the preferences we selected perfectly. Wonderful job

     
  2. Michael

    Underwhelming. Am I doing something wrong or are these “views” just poor same level screengrabs from Google Earth? If so, I would never book a hotel at Times Square, just boring office windows that I can look at.

    The whole decision algorithm if the view of a hotel room is good or weak is terrible. I laughed so hard many times at how wrong the rating is. Because a computer can not make such bad decisions, I suspect that mechanical turks have done the work. But I can be wrong.

    From a marketing point of view, the whole concept is an epic failure. It’s not just the misleading concept that will leave many angry customers behind who do not understand that they can not book the exact room 1234 but also during their stay, people will hate their room 1236 and envy the person in 1234 because room77 made them believe 1236 is a bad room though everything is perfectly fine. It was just a drunk mechanical turk or the bad programming that displays it as a bad room.

    And this is where I also see a lot of angry hotels in the future because of the bad reputation that this site creates for them. “Room 608 at the Ritz Carlton Central Park is flagged red on room77, dont stay there. It’s terrible.” … yeah, right.

    So: “we’re going to out-Kayak Kayak”? No, you won’t.

     
  3. Chris

    “We think there’s a lot to be done in hotel metasearch – we’re going to out-Kayak Kayak by focusing like a laser ONLY on hotels just like Hotels.com and Booking.com, but better.”

    Well good Luck with that. Let’s start doing as well as them first :)

    Very Nice UI so far but I doubt Conversion has anything to do with booking.com ratios.

     
 
 

Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel