A new and ingenious hotel search engine has entered the market of travel websites. Named Room 77, it allows you to search for a specific hotel, enter your room type preferences including bed type, floor level & distance from the elevator, and then displays a list of top-matching rooms at that hotel, as well as a floor plan and sample view.
Having just come on the scene last month, it’s still showing as a “beta” site and they willingly acknowledge being a work in progress stating, “machines can only do so much.” Basically, they’re asking for contributions in the form of tips, pictures and comments on the properties already in their system, currently numbering about 2,500. I had the opportunity last weekend to stay in one of the hotels in their system, so here’s my first-hand experience with Room 77’s technology.
As I blogged about previously, I’m starting to expand my hotel loyalty over to the Hilton brand of hotels, and had my first stay as a Silver HHonors member at the Embassy Suites Los Angeles Airport-North. My preferences with Hilton are stored to begin with as “high floor, away from elevator, king bed,” and the room I ended up being assigned (717), was a strong 74.9% match with Room 77. In full disclosure, the entire floor 8 at the hotel is under renovation, so I would otherwise have likely had a higher percentage match if I were assigned a room one floor up. Overall, the floor plan for this Embassy Suites is 100% accurate, and I’ve copied it below:
Now to the view. Here is where the technology didn’t come in so strong, although they once again are forthcoming by stating, “… there may be cases where views aren’t accurate or simply aren’t available. We’re continuously working to improve our system, and we welcome your feedback.” Until users begin submitting actual photos, Room 77 relies on Google Earth images tweaked with altitude, latitude & longitude data to simulate the view. Here is the view for my room according to the website:
And here is the actual view from room 717 taken at eye level from my balcony:
That’s the top of a parking garage in my picture, and while the other buildings in the background are situated in the correct positions on Room 77’s version, Google Earth must be missing that parking garage. I can’t fault Room 77 if this is the case, of course. The view textually does state “none” on the room specific detail box I posted further up in this post, but I don’t think it’s because of the parking garage. People on floors 6 and below on that side of the hotel will certainly get a surprise view when compared what’s showing on Room 77 today.
Which brings me to the feedback they’re asking for. I’m going to submit this same information to them directly as I’ve posted here, and currently you just email them at email@example.com. I would recommend they develop a “submit your photos/comments” link with fill in forms, and a place to upload your pictures vs. an inefficient email method that likely might miss out on important feedback. I’m sure they’ve thought of that, so perhaps it’ll be included in the next enhancement.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the site and its layout, ease of navigation, and bringing a new level of hotel detail we’re not used to seeing in terms of floor plans and room views. They also include tips on calling the property to maximize getting a desired room, and have an iPhone App with the Android version forthcoming. Good stuff, and I’ll be following their development closely.