Ask any hotel manager or owner, and they will tell you the importance of search engines and how they impact their bottom line. Online bookings are what is most important to a hotel, and there are six hotels looking to break away from the mold. Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, and Wyndham Hotel Group have formed a new hotel search engine called Roomkey. There are a few reasons they have partnered together to develop this, but one of the primary ones is to lessen their dependency upon the online travel agencies (OTA’s) and reduce their commission paid to them.
Roomkey.com will allow users to search through all 23,000 hotels in the company’s brand and will give them access to the hotel company website. Roomkey is striving to make the hotel search experience as straightforward as possible for the user by giving them an organized and clean site as well as offering them the lowest hotel rates that are available from the hotel websites. In addition to discounted and advance purchase rates, the potential guest will also have an opportunity to receive program credits that they cannot get through an OTA when they book through Roomkey.
The big issue here is the commissions that are paid to online travel agencies. Hotels can often pay OTA’s such as Expedia anywhere from 5 to 30 percent and sometimes as high as 60 percent. There doesn’t seem to be any slowing down for the OTA’s with 45% off all online hotel bookings in the United States going to them in 2011. The site is in beta and will officially launch the non-beta version sometime in March. This should be interesting how well this turns out and could be a great tool, especially if these hotels are the type of hotels you stay at when traveling.