REPORT FROM THE U.S.—When Room Key entered the pantheon of metasearch engines, initial reactions varied. While big chains were seemingly excited for this alternative to third-party search engines, independent hoteliers maintained a reserved skepticism, wondering what place, if any, there will be for them on the site. These independent owners are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Room Key’s potential influence on independents and hotel search-engine landscape.
That’s not to say Room Key, the joint venture among the industry’s biggest brands including Choice Hotels International; Hilton Worldwide; Hyatt Hotels Corporation; InterContinental Hotels Group; Marriott International; Wyndham Hotel Group; and Best Western International launched in January, isn’t planning on courting independent hotels for its site.
Room Key is talking to representation companies, including Utell Hotels & Resorts, Sabre, Synxis, and Leading Hotels of the World, Room Key’s CEO John Davis said.
“That’s how we’ll get the independents,” he said.
Within the next 90 days, Davis hopes to get independent hotel groups on board. “The benefit will be much lower costs. … they are on the wrong end of the stick. This will be significantly less for them,” he said. Because it’s still in its infancy, Roomkey.com’s inventory needs to grow before some independent hotel owners will take notice, sources report.
Robert Cole, founder of RockCheetah, a travel industry marketing strategy and technology consultancy, and former director of hotel distribution with The Sabre Company, said Davis will need important global players such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Accor and Carlson to sustain momentum to target more properties.
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