… the world’s first hotel room database and search engine, providing consumers with unprecedented detail about each guest room at thousands of three- to five-star properties. The company has developed proprietary technology, including its Room Rank algorithm that scores every room, based on the traveler’s preferences, and the virtual Room View, which simulates the actual view from each room using Google Earth.
Accessible through the Web and its free iPhone app, Room 77 is designed to go where travelers do and also offers tools and features that enable travelers to “sleuth” room data and help build the growing database.
This all sounds like great marketing spin to fill a typical press release. But after touring the site and reviewing its features with their production team, it’s every bit as cool as promised.
You can virtually “see” the view from your hotel room without actually being there. It’s no longer enough to book an “Oceanview Deluxe” and pray that you’re getting your money’s worth. Now when a hotel promises that your suite is “oceanview”, Room 77 lets you know how much of a view you’re actually receiving.
The Room Rank feature is particularly cool. Simply select your room preferences based on: what floor you like (High/Low), whether you need a connecting room, how close to the elevator you care to be, and whether or not a view is important to you. The site then reveals which rooms best match your preferences at a particular hotel.
They’re also working to crowdsource info directly from hotel staff and management. For example, on the above screencapped page of the Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle, hotel staff offered these tips for travelers:
All rooms offer city views, but to minimize obstruction from tall buildings nearby, request a room overlooking the Green Roof side of the building, above at least the 9th floor.
If you’re a light sleeper, request a room away from the elevators, above the 12th floor.
Through these relationships, they’re also gathering photos directly from hotel properties to develop a “Hotel Verified” program. This adds a new level of confidence to the booking process so travelers have a better idea of what they’re getting before they arrive. It’s a level of transparency and honesty almost unheard of in the hotel industry.
They’re currently working with travelers to crowdsource photos, tips and reviews. They assured us:
… we are still encouraging travelers to help up “sleuth” hotels across the globe. We expect to add the user-generated images and reviews in the weeks ahead, and we’ll keep you apprised of the news in advance. Since launch, we’ve collected hundreds of data points, including photos, from travelers. Any traveler can send room data and images to [email protected] or through the iPhone app.
One thing of note is that the site currently only allows searching by a specific hotel name. The developers recognize this limitation and are working to expand functionality to allow searching by city.
The site’s growing at an amazing clip. Today alone, they’ve added Philadelphia, New Orleans and Vancouver. The company aims to catalog more than 1,000,000 hotel rooms by year’s end and so far (with nearly 480,000 as of April 2011) they’re well on track to do so.
Bottom line: it’s an ingenious concept – one that we’re surprised hasn’t been done before – and an exciting step forward for travelers. As evidenced by the massive amount of press they’ve already received in the past two months, this is the future of online hotel booking. I virtually guarantee it.