This is it. You’ve nailed down the travel dates for your upcoming vacation. Now it’s your time to shine by booking the perfect hotel. But, for many travelers, “perfect” can mean a lot of different things.
Do you want the perfect price? Perfect location? Perfect eight-jet Jacuzzi in the bathroom? You crack your knuckles and get to work.
To make sure you compare every hotel in your destination city, you use a hotel search engine like Booking.com, right? Well, sites like those are actually not search engines. They’re third-party (a.k.a. “middle-men”) travel agencies who book flights and hotel rooms for you. While that might not sound like a problem, there are many reasons why using an online travel agency (OTA) like Travelocity or Hotels.com actually leaves you worse off than if you had booked directly with the hotel. We’ll describe some of those reasons below, but we’re so passionate about this topic that we wrote a whole separate article to talk about it in more detail. You can also read up on what Business Insider has to say (which sounds familiar!)
But what makes Room Key different?
Room Key Is a Search Tool, Not a Middle-Man
Room Key is a true hotel search engine. We were founded by the hotels themselves, and we partner with over 60 different hotel chains that serve more than 45,000 hotel properties around the world. When you search on roomkey.com, every search result will take you directly to your chosen hotel’s website to secure your room by booking directly with them. No third parties, no middle-man travel agencies. The hotel brands listed on our site are our partners; we work together to ensure that you get the best rate and the best search experience possible.
We Don’t Bias Search Results
Many OTAs like Expedia and Priceline paved their way to the top by altering search results to boost their bottom line. OTAs can charge as high as 25% commission to hotels if their properties are booked through one of these sites. As a result, these travel giants have started to bias their search results by awarding the top search result spots to properties that make them the most money. On the other hand, for hotels that don’t make them as much money, OTAs have been known to “dim”, or minimize, those listings so they will be less likely to be clicked.
A few years ago, when the hotels tried to fight back against these unfair practices, the OTAs responded with a simple solution: we’ll just let them pay extra if they want their hotels to appear higher! As a result, not only do hotels now make less than they should for each room sold on an OTA’s website, but you as the customer lose as well by seeing results that were paid for, rather than results that meet your actual travel needs.
On roomkey.com, we do neither of these things. We aren’t paid under the table for one hotel to appear higher on the search page than another, and we don’t bias our search results by anything other than your own search filters.
Get Simple and Honest Search
Phrases like, “Only 3 rooms left at this price” and “Booked 40 times in the last 24 hours,” that you often see on OTA sites are just their shady sales tactics meant to persuade you into booking with them faster. In contrast, Room Key is designed with complete transparency in mind. You know that when you click “search,” you’ll enter a gimmick-free zone. We show you just the facts, presented in a way that makes sense. No sales, just search.
With us, each hotel is listed with both the base rate as well as the final rate after taxes and fees. You won’t get sticker shocked once you make it to the last stage of your check out process. No hidden fees – just true, accurate pricing that’s fair to the hotel and honest to people. Honesty is pretty easy, we’ve found.
Our search page also includes an interactive map to help you narrow down which part of town you want to stay in, as well as filter options based on price, amenities, or which hotel brands you prefer to sort by. Results can be as granular as you want, with the comfort of knowing that the price you see is the price you’ll get.
Compare Loyalty Rates Too
Of all the hotel search sites out there, Room Key is the only hotel search engine that lets you directly compare the loyalty member rates of multiple hotel brands all on one page. (A loyalty rate is a special rate offered only to members of a hotel’s loyalty program and are often the lowest rates available.) OTAs, who don’t have access to these rates, can’t include them in their search results. But due to our direct relationship with our partners, we can give you the full picture.
To those who are members of multiple hotel loyalty programs, this is your gold mine. Search once, and see all the best-possible rates laid out in one place.
If loyalty programs are new to you, it’s worth taking a moment to sign up for these programs. They are free to join, and you’ll be able to take advantage of their lower member-only rates every time you book. Plus, hotels love their loyalty members, and many of them will treat you like royalty when you arrive.
Booking Through Room Key Is Booking Direct
One of the biggest issues with booking through an OTA is that the moment you do, you’ve become a customer of the OTA, not a customer of the hotel. When your travel plans change and you need to modify or cancel your reservation, the OTA draws their curtains and closes their doors. They’ll say, “Sorry, go talk to the hotel,” but the hotel might not be able to modify your reservation because it was booked through a third-party.
On the other hand, when booking your room through the hotel’s own website, you’re often met with understanding and flexibility when you have to change your plans.
Because Room Key is a search engine not a booking site, once you’ve chosen your room, we take you directly to the hotel’s website to complete your transaction. Your contact details and credit card information go through them – not us – making you the customer of the hotel. On top of getting better perks by booking direct (like room preference, and free WiFi), you’ll also get the benefit of higher quality customer service.
We’re Bringing the Truth to Travel
We got tired of having to play by the rules made by the ever-growing OTA giants like Expedia and Priceline. So we decided to do something about it and thus, Room Key was born. While sites like Hotels.com and Hotwire cloud your search results with gimmicks, hidden fees, and fine print, our only goal is to give you the cleanest search experience that eliminates your stress and empowers your planning. Our mission is to bring truth back to the travel industry. That’s why, at Room Key, we’re about “No tricks. Just travel.”