Room Key, the global hotel search platform created by six of the biggest hotel brands intends to change the way hotel bookings are done. The 6 hotel chains namely  Choice Hotels InternationalHilton WorldwideHyatt HotelsInterContinental HotelsMarriott International and Wyndham Hotel Group have joined forces together to pool their and other independent hotel properties to create their own search engine which promises to offer the lowest possible rate, no cancellation charges and best of all you still get to earn loyalty points on these rates. The site which has been around since January 2012 and seems to be one of the ways where hotels plan to cut down on their distribution costs incurred while dealing with the Online Travel Agents, Global Distribution Systems and also with the growing threat of travel aggregators like Google and Bing.

The site seems to be pretty easy to use and well crafted with all the data quite well defined for a good user experience. The two features that I found on the site that I found pretty useful were:

1. Creating shortlists for the search results and then the ability to share the same with others.

2. Integrated TripAdvisor reviews for the properties available.

How much threat this initiative of the big chains will be to the established market players still remains to be seen, given that the established have a well built distribution network and strong alliances which help them maintain a good grip in the industry and also they are pretty strong in their domain of operations which is e-commerce. Overall I found the site a pleasant experience to use and would love to see how does the potential cost savings from such initiatives get passed onto the customers.

  • Mark said,

    It’s always good to have option. But I have repeatedly find Priceline and Hotwire to be my goto site for booking. I think cheaper hotel beats status and point accruing for me. I pay a big tip at the check in for good room and free Internet

  • Ric Garrido said,

    I am frequently asked what I think of RoomKey.

    There is some value in having the hotel loyalty program hotels on one site, but I don’t see any competitive advantage to the site.

    Most of us want to see all our choices for a location or else just the limited choices of our favorite loyalty program hotels.

    I don’t find RoomKey to have any value that I can’t get from a site like Kayak.

    Of course the hotel chains like it since it is a lower cost distribution system than other online travel agencies.

  • planensimple said,

    Totally get that but if you get cheaper rates plus loyalty points, I guess then there’s nothing lost in that.

  • planensimple said,

    Totally get your point Rick, the way I see it is that for this model to work hotel chains need to pass the cost saving benefit to the customers just like the low cost airlines do from what they save by not using the GDS’s.

    I like the fact that I find most of my hotel loyalty programs under one roof. All in all it’s still a long way to go for Room Key given that they took 18 months to just launch!

    If they capitalize on their benefits well and good else they will also become and also ran in this race.

  • DaninSTL said,

    Sounds like price fixing future threat to me but I’m kinda dumb. I book where ever gives me the best rate and then best points on top of that. I have started playing with topcashback. Jury is still out on that site for me.

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