Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Room Key - A New Hotel Search And Reservation Service

Room Key has launched as a joint venture owned by Hilton, Choice, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, and Wyndham. These six companies represent over 60 different hotels, including Garden Inn, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Waldorf, Clarion, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton, EconoLodge, Howard Johnson, and Renaissance. Together they formed Hotel JV Services, LLC to be the owner of this endeavor. Best Western is the first non-owner partner to join the website.

The technology behind Room Key comes from their June 2011 acquisition of hotelicopter which started life as VibeAgent in 2006. The founders, Adam Healey and Charles Seilheimer are now VPs with Room Key.

They described it as:
An innovative new online hotel search engine that will provide the simplicity, transparency and breadth of choice consumers expect from a search engine, while delivering the flexibility, accuracy and assurance consumers expect from the hospitality industry.
I found it much easier and faster to use than Priceline, Expedia, and Orbitz. The prices on Room Key were exactly the same as the other services, and more accurate. One of the other services had an inaccurate price displayed; it ended up being higher once I started the reservation process. Room Key was accurate because it removes the middleman. I believe that we could see some rooms in the future with lower prices because of the streamlined service.

Expansion is already in the works with guest reviews coming, along with sharing and planning with friends and family. I found that the service mark is not yet approved so there is a possibility that the service's name could change in the future.

The success, and promotion, of the site will be tricky. They do not want to turn their backs on the current search/booking websites because of the revenue they generate, but they will want to build and increase the use of their own (more profitable) service. Thinking about all of Room Key's participating locations and websites, they sure have one heck of an advertising channel. I could not find any definitive social media channels to follow them on, but this could be their Facebook page. (Update 1/30/2011: Facebook page confirmed.)