Like “seat guru for hotel rooms,” was my immediate thought; Room 77 is a search engine for hotel rooms. The site is creating and indexing data on hotels in the US and UK (and eventually around the world) that qualify with three stars and above. There’s also an iPhone app launching simultaneously today.
There are 16 destinations with coverage at launch. Those include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
By working with the hotel chains and independent contractors who literally walked the halls of many of the hotels in the database, Room 77 has put together profiles of thousands of hotel rooms with detail about room locations, bed types, square footage, proximity to the elevator and other data. The site also creates a virtual 3-D “Room View” that simulates what the view looks like from their hypothetical room choice. Eventually images of room interiors will come online, partly through crowdsourcing.
Personalization is one of the key features of the site, which ranks rooms according to individual user preferences. According to the press materials Room 77′s “Room Rank” algorithm “adjusts to each individual’s preferences for high or low floor, distance from elevator, view importance and need for connecting rooms. Each room is then scored with a color-coded match percentage indicating: “strong match” (green), “fair match” (yellow) and “weak match” (red). These colors also correspond to an interactive floor plan map that highlights each room’s precise location within the hotel.”
The data are totally unique, which should get immediate attention from users and the press. My sense is that Room 77 will initially be used by business users and other frequent travelers, as well as tourists spending lots of money on a vacation.
One of the challenges here is that hotels usually don’t guarantee rooms and so requested rooms won’t necessarily be available. The site offers some tips and tricks for getting the room you want, however. And here’s where the iPhone app really comes in handy.
As you’re standing at the registration desk and being handed your keys, you can query the database and see if the room is well liked or not. That way you don’t have to physically visit the room and then go back down to the desk to ask for a different room.
Room 77 executives see several revenue opportunities. Among them they recognize an opportunity to create incremental revenue for hotels through offering premium room guarantees (which largely don’t exist today). The site doesn’t offer direct hotel booking but links to partners that do.
The site was founded and backed by executives from Zillow and Farecast, among others. Accordingly, the data are reminiscent of Zillow’s “Zestimate” home valuations which helped get so much attention initially.
I’ll speculate that just like Zillow’s Zestimates Room 77 will syndicate its room data to third party travel sites. But that’s my speculation. Regardless this is a novel and useful new tool for tourists and road warriors alike.