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Big Chains Launch “Hulu For Hotels”
Several major hotel chains have launched what might be described as “Hulu for hotels,” a new travel search site called Roomkey. According to Tnooz, the consortium includes Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Wyndham Hotels. Starwood, operator of Sheraton and W hotels, is not among them.
Hotels have been struggling for years to get consumers to come directly to them rather than various OTAs, middlemen and aggregators to whom they pay affiliate booking and lead fees. This is not the first such hotels joint venture effort. There have been several initiatives over the past decade that have met with limited or mixed success.
The functionality and design of the Roomkey site are very good. It’s not clear Roomkey is comprehensive enough to be truly competitive, however. For example, there are no consumer reviews and users don’t see all available hotels in a market.
Higher profile sites such as TripAdvisor, Kayak, Orbitz and numerous other “booking engines” represent formidable competition. Google itself is now showing hotel rooms and pricing.
According to Hitwise, Google Maps is the internet’s top travel site. Following the acquisition of travel booking platform ITA last year, Google has been incrementally rolling out more travel search features and capabilities.