Why Was Roomkey Created?

how to use travel points-family watching airplane take off at airportIt began the way most start-ups begin: we didn’t like what the other guys were doing. You probably know someone who’s had a bad experience with a travel booking site like Travelocity or Priceline. If you read ConsumerAffairs’ reviews of Expedia, almost all you’ll find is story after story of someone’s hotel or flight experience gone wrong because they couldn’t change their reservation when they needed to. Maybe this has even happened to you.

The hotel brands started noticing these problems, too. Thanks to spammy sales gimmicks and a lack of customer service provided by online travel agencies (OTAs), customer satisfaction was declining across the hotel industry. The hotels decided they were tired of playing by OTA rules. Major players in the hotel industry joined forces to create an online space where travelers could avoid aggressive sales tactics and do what they came to do: compare rates from different hotels. Hotel companies knew that travelers liked the search-one-and-done aspect of OTA sites, but they hated how OTAs took advantage of their customers. So they created Roomkey: a site to search hotels free from all the clutter and shady tactics of OTAs—just clean and simple search.

Those heroes of the hotel industry are Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, and Wyndham Hotel Group. Today, these brands serve as direct partners to Roomkey.

A Closer Look at the Online Travel Industry

We mentioned before that OTAs are causing trouble for travelers, but they cause trouble for hotels too. Many OTAs boost their revenue by altering their search results to boost their bottom line. To increase their commission income, sites like these rearrange their search results to first show you the properties that will make them the most commission, not the ones that best meet your search criteria. Similarly, some of these sites will even delete pictures of hotel listings that don’t generate big commissions to discourage users from booking that location. This process is known as “dimming,” and it doesn’t seem fair, does it? We didn’t think so either.

Because well-known hotel brands like our founders have so many properties, they’re able to have more bargaining power with the OTAs to negotiate lower commission rates. But smaller independent hotels, who rely on sites like Booking.com to drive bookings, are stuck paying commission rates as high as 25%. Well-known hotels like Marriott and Hilton are therefore pushed down in search results and “dimmed” because they make the OTAs less money than a small independent hotel does. If you’ve ever wondered why sites like this show you so many hotels that you’ve never heard of, this is why. Lesser-known hotels rise to the top of search results because they make the OTA more money.

Hotels tried to fight back against practices like these, and OTAs responded by allowing the hotels to pay them directly for “sponsored listings” that would appear higher in search results. This leaves the hotels stuck with their hands tied, and you, the customer, are stuck with a less-than-truthful search experience because you’re not seeing the full picture.

Our hotel partners decided enough was enough. If they couldn’t stop the OTAs from using deceptive practices, they would create their own platform that would give travelers accurate information and a search experience that would allow them to book directly with the hotel and earn loyalty points while doing so. Everybody wins—except the OTAs.

Why Roomkey Is the Solution

Roomkey exists as a safe, reliable, and honest place for people to book hotels. We are not profit-driven like OTAs are, and we don’t bias our search results. Instead, our goal is to help you search for hotel rates among trusted hotel brands all in one place.

Other sites hide behind fine print and provide misleading information that’s sometimes just a straight-up lie. We’ve all seen it: messages that tell you “only 3 rooms left at this rate!” or “32 people are looking at this right now!” These are examples of urgency marketing and that’s all they are: sales gimmicks designed to convince you to book before you’re ready.

At Roomkey, we believe you shouldn’t have to wonder what’s true or not when planning a vacation – so we don’t give you any of that mess. We put the facts front and center and provide true and useful information when you need it most.

When you look at hotels on Roomkey, you can trust you’re getting accurate, real-time information. After all, we are partners with the hotels. We will never show you apples-to-oranges price comparisons. Instead of tacking on hidden fees and taxes just before you click “pay now,” we show them up front as you search so you know exactly what you’ll pay.

Once you’ve found the hotel of your choice, you’ll be transferred to the hotel’s website to book where you’ll secure your room, rate, and loyalty points too. By searching with us and booking direct, you will have a better hotel experience. It’s that simple. Search without the gimmicks. Hotel booking without the runaround. That’s how we bring transparency to travel—and make travel work for you. Are you ready to book your next vacation? We’re ready and waiting to help.