Room Key, the global hotel search platform created by six of the biggest hotel brands intends to change the way hotel bookings are done. The 6 hotel chains namely Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott International and Wyndham Hotel Group have joined forces together to pool their and other independent hotel properties to create their own search engine which promises to offer the lowest possible rate, no cancellation charges and best of all you still get to earn loyalty points on these rates. The site which has been around since January 2012 and seems to be one of the ways where hotels plan to cut down on their distribution costs incurred while dealing with the Online Travel Agents, Global Distribution Systems and also with the growing threat of travel aggregators like Google and Bing.
The site seems to be pretty easy to use and well crafted with all the data quite well defined for a good user experience. The two features that I found on the site that I found pretty useful were:
1. Creating shortlists for the search results and then the ability to share the same with others.
2. Integrated TripAdvisor reviews for the properties available.
How much threat this initiative of the big chains will be to the established market players still remains to be seen, given that the established have a well built distribution network and strong alliances which help them maintain a good grip in the industry and also they are pretty strong in their domain of operations which is e-commerce. Overall I found the site a pleasant experience to use and would love to see how does the potential cost savings from such initiatives get passed onto the customers.