Would you be willing to pay extra to choose your hotel room?
Hotels may soon be cashing in on an untapped market that charges a fee to book the room that they want.
In a recent interview with Budget Travel’s Laura Michonski, Peter reviews some of the options out there for traveler and what may be in store in the near future.
Peter Greenberg: There is a new site out there called Room 77. Necessity being the mother of invention, I get it. This is a site that allows you to actually book the room you want.
Laura Michonski: That’s right. You can’t actually book just yet on the site, although they are in talks with Starwood to see if they can set that up. But what it does is show you how previous guests have rated 425,000 rooms in about 16 cities across the U.S. It allows you to see photos of the rooms and get a sense of whether or not it is quiet, what kind of views it has. So you know exactly what kind of room you’re getting when you book a hotel. It’s not like going in blind.
Looking for an inexpensive vacation rental instead of a hotel? Be sure to check out: Vacation Rentals: Tips, Tricks & Questions You Need To Ask
PG: They’ve rated individual room numbers. I bet there are some rooms that really are dogs.
LM: That’s the kind of gamble you take right now.
PG: I’m assuming people say things like, this room is next to the ice machine and it’s making noise all night long, or it’s next to the elevator, or it’s next to the construction site. Or they say it’s a room with a view of an interior courtyard that’s in an elevator shaft. Is that any different than being able to pick your seat on a plane?
LM: It is very similar, and I think hotels have long been looking to do what airlines have done for seats. United charges extra for premium seats; Spirit sells upgrades; Continental does something similar. I think hotels have learned that maybe people would be willing to spend a little bit extra. I haven’t really seen anyone talking prices just yet, but I think there’s clearly a market for that out there.
PG: But some hotels are different than others. Some people are more equal than others, based on your own standing within their hotel’s frequent stay program. With Hilton if you’re an Honors Program Member, they will let you book your room ahead of time.
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LM: That’s right, there are hotels that are rolling out programs like that. Hilton Hotel is one example. Homewood Suites is another example. They’ll let anyone who has an online profile reserve an exact room. You don’t get to reserve that room until about 36 hours before check-in, so you’re limited in that sense, but they’re starting to roll those out. What we’re not seeing yet is a fee.
PG: OK, now I’ve got to ask the devil’s advocate question. If you’re got the opportunity to book a room based on the room number, why wouldn’t the hotels then do a sliding scale and make those rooms a premium price?
LM: You never know. First of all, it’s a little bit difficult for hotels because they’re not really booking rooms until the eleventh hour right before check-in. So they don’t really know what rooms are available. And there are some other complicating factors in there. But I do think that if this turns out to be popular enough, and enough people are interested in this, I’m sure they will find ways to charge extra fees.
PG: Laura, I’ll make you a bet, they will.
By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio.
Related links on PeterGreenberg.com:
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- Travel Tip: Notable New Hotel Search Sites
- Travel Tip: Charity Hotels
- Travel Tip: Vetting Beachfront Properties
- Hotels & Accommodations section