Continuing my brief series of reviews of new travel sites (following this recent review of Hipmunk.com), today I’ll share a review of Room77.com, a site that is trying to do for hotels what Seatguru does for airlines. In short, they will give you a floormap of a hotel and, more impressively, a photograph of the view from the room (or at least it’s an approximation of the view using a mashup of Google Maps’ satellite imagery to show you the view outside the room. Kinda neat.
Room77 also allows for some personalized recommendations, asking you to input what’s most important to you about a room (ie, whether it’s on a high floor, etc) and they’ll give you room recommendations in the hotel that best match your needs.
The idea of this is interesting, though I have to ask: What problem is this actually trying to solve? If you’re interested in a room with a certain view type (ie, ocean view room), you can generally book that category of room already. If there’s a specific room you want, just about every hotel of any size will tell you they can’t guarantee a specific room (the complexities of maximizing occupancy make that a challenge). Room77 even acknowledges this in their “tips” section about the Sheraton Chicago: “River view rooms can’t be specifically booked online. Reserve the room type you prefer, then call ahead and/or request a river view upon arrival at the hotel…” Well, duh. Isn’t this what we’ve always done? Why do I need another site for that?
To be fair, the site just launched, and the content is very, very weak as of now (“The higher the floor, the quieter your room is likely to be.” Who knew?). But if they can strike a deal with hotel chains where you can reserve a specific room, it would become more interesting. And if they can do this for cruise ships (where you’re stuck in a room for 7 days), that, too, would be very interesting.
This does feel more like a feature of another site than a standalone product, which may certainly be the idea. But as I said about Hipmunk, any innovation in how we book travel online is a good thing, and Room77’s idea is one that has not yet been tried. I’m just not sure anyone really needs it.