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Update December 31, 2016 – It looks like they've terminated this service and are redirecting the site elsewhere…
London's largest hotel owner-operator, GLH Hotels, has launched the first hotel booking site that allows customers to choose a specific room prior to making a reservation. GLH operates a portfolio of 15 hotels across central London including Amba Hotels, every Hotels, Thistle, and Guoman Hotels.
While the big international hotel operators have been at war with the OTA's, trying encourage patrons to book direct, GLH has been road testing chooseyourownroom.com, a service which has real potential to change patrons booking behaviour because it offers something the OTA's do not. Room selection.
Per the companies press release, Choose Your Own Room features include:
- The ability to view, compare and book the specific room that guests want to stay in
- A search facility that allows users to filter results based on location, price, amenities as well as room layout and even floor plan. Useful categories such as: For Families, For Business, On A Budget, With A View and Suite Stays make it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for
- Guest reviews that are captured for specific rooms, not just the hotel – so users can also check out what other people have said before they book
- An individual host to answer all questions during the booking process
The booking website looks to have borrowed liberally from the style and function of Airbnb, with a simple interface, plenty of categories and the ability to refine your search by floor, view, layout or size. You can even see pictures and read reviews for the individual room you are interested in booking.
There have been some recent attempts by the likes of Hilton to add the capacity for customers to select a room. But this is the first time we have seen that functionality move past the basics of choosing your room at check-in, allowing customers to book a particular room as far as 50 weeks out.
It opens up a massive set of value propositions for hotel operators. Following the trail of airline profits over the last decade, you see a larger portion of profits every year originating from the ‘user pays' system of add-ons and upgrades. Seat selection, priority boarding, meals, and entertainment are all becoming ‘extras' that can be added during the airline checkout process on top of the bare-bones economy ticket. And with the technology in the hotel sphere finally catching up, you can see this type of user pays system spreading into the accommodation space.
If you can start advertising each room on its merits, it allows you to start selling a much more customized experience and provides much more of an incentive to book directly with the hotel.
You have to take your hat off to this style of innovation. While GLH has the advantage of being a smaller operator, it still requires an enormous amount of foresight, effort, and development time to roll a system like this out with GLH testing this product since 2014. It is small technological jumps like this that are often catalysts for industry-wide changes.
Who is looking forward to their next trip to London and the chance to use this service to book a room?
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