Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tourism & Technology Thursday - New Hotel Search Engine Room Key

One of the biggest battles in the hospitality industry is between the service providers like the airlines and the hotels and the book engines like Expedia & Travelocity.  The main issue being that the airlines and hotels do not necessarily like to pay the commissions asked for by the booking engines.  They also do not like the lack of control over how their product is packaged and sold.  As a result of this this uneasy relationship with the online booking engines - six hotels chains (Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels (most known for the Holiday inn Chain), Marriott and Wyndham Hotels) have created their own search engine and book site called Room Key (see screen shot below).

The site is still in Beta testing mode.  I did a quick search for Charleston, South Carolina for January 14 - 15th.  The site came up with 26 hotels (see screen shot below).

One of the most interesting features of this site is that you can narrow your search or view your in a variety of different manners.  In the next example shown in the screen shot below, I narrowed the search by moving the bar around price range and star rating.  I moved priced levels to between $100 & $200 and star rating to between 2 & 3.  The search was then narrowed down to six choices.

 I then clicked to map the locations of the six properties (see screen shot below).

I then chose to book at the Residence Inn Charleston Downtown/Riverview and when I clicked its link, it took me directly to the Mariott booking page for the property.

The advantage to this engine for the consumer is that I can then book using my various rewards programs that would otherwise be unavailable if I was booking through one of the online travel agencies.

My Review

The interface is clean and easy to use.  The results are comparable to all of the other sites.  The prices were the same at Expedia and Travelocity.  The downside is that unlike Expedia and Travelocity - you can only book hotel rooms on this site.  You can not yet book an entire trip experience.  If however, you are just looking to book a hotel room, this site is one which makes it quick and convenient. Add to that the comfort of making the research with the property itself (no third party involvement per se) and the ability to use rewards points - this site is going to provide heavy competition to the online travel agencies.

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Acting Balanced


  1. So when are we getting a night away??? YOu know I love the Residence Inn...

  2. This is good to know if I ever need to book a hotel room. I haven't had to do that in a while though. Hopefully soon my husband will whisk me away and I will have to chance! :)
    I am visiting form Thirsty For Comments Thursday, if you get a chance please visit my post at Thoughts n' Such

  3. Wow! This will really come in handy next time I have to book a hotel room out of state! I hate not quite knowing what I'm getting when I book a room - sometimes the money paid just isn't worth what you get. At least this way you could make sure you are getting what you paid for!
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  4. I will have to keep this in mind the next time we make travel plans!

  5. This is great! I will share this with my husband, who travels often. We used his rewards points to buy some great Christmas presents this year, so he'll love being able to earn more points.

  6. This is great! I am an admin at my company and am in charge of booking all of the travel for anything that's related to my region (construction company). We use a particular travel agency that our company has a corporate account with, but trying to search for adequate lodging/flights/cars with their search engine is more than frustrating. I think they make it that way so we'll have to call their reps to help us (which costs $35/pop). Because of my experiences with that, I absolutely dread jumping online to research for personal travel.

    I think that sites like these, backed by the advertising budgets that these hotel chains (and possibly airline and car rental places in the future) will make this and similar sites that are sure to follow much for user friendly, informative and less taxing to use.

    Thanks for sharing your review and for linking up at TFCT again :)