If you haven’t heard of Room 77, you’re probably in the majority. Even though this new website is still in the gestation phase, here’s a primer for how to use it to make sure your property is included by the time it catches on with guests.
With a straightforward layout, Room 77 is a directory for a hotel’s accommodations using room lists and floor plans to display specific rooms in all their detail and grandeur. While TripAdvisor recently introduced its “room tip” feature, Room 77 takes this concept well beyond a one-liner in an already cluttered website. The big visual draw is this site’s use of Google Earth simulated views from each room’s windows – easily its most exclusive quality. Moreover, it informs potential guests about such minute details like the proximity to the elevator, noise levels, WiFi strength, bed sizes, smoking or non-smoking, and even if there are interconnecting doors.
Consumers can refine their search based on room compatibilities that match their preferences. For example, some guests prefer to be in a penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows, while others prefer to stay grounded. And, of course, as an obligatory for online hotel websites, users can post reviews after their stay, organized by individual rooms and not merely an amalgamation of critiques for the entire property.
From the perspective of a hotelier, this may seem like a logistical nightmare. Room 77 takes the tried-and-true methodology of dividing rooms into categories and throws it straight out the window. Instead of managing a 300-room property with 7 different room types, you’re now running the same property with 300 different room types.
But there are benefits. Room 77 is free for properties to list on and the only cost is the time needed to set up an account and supply the required specs. The site sends highly-targeted traffic (users who look up rooms at length) directly to hotel websites instead of those dreaded third-party booking engines. And rest assured, Room 77 is not one of these booking sites (at least, not yet!). They only give suggestions, even recommending the best times to call the hotel to ask about room preferences.
As with all major players in the online realm, involving yourself is not about whether you like a particular channel, it’s about where your potential guests are. Of course, this tool may be deemed negligible for those surfing the one- or two-star cohorts. But, if you’re charging a premium, you’re likely catering to a discerning and often whimsical customer. So, what can a hotelier do to turn searches on this website into future sales?
Currently, there are only a handful of listed properties. Even fewer have gone through the process of uploading specific room pictures. Listing is half the battle, and you can do it easily just by signing up. And listing gives you access to what users are saying about your hotel, right down to each particular room.
Some customers will appreciate that you made the effort to get onboard with this new age web platform, which lends your property a “tech savvy” image. There’s also a section where hotel management can communicate directly with users, advising them on anything from in-room features to general hotel amenities. And as you should already know, any point of contact between you and a consumer may well lead to a sale.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published on Buyer Interactive on August 1, 2011)