Yesterday, I was searching for room rates at Hilton hotel properties in the western suburbs of Chicago using the official Internet web site of Hilton Worldwide, and I must not have closed the tab in my browser after finding underwhelming results to my search. I eventually shut down my computer for the night without booking a reservation for a room.
Imagine my surprise when I launched my computer this morning and found a sole window from my browser offering options other than Hilton hotel branded properties:
Interestingly enough, the Courtyard by Marriott is showing a room rate of $71.00 plus taxes — less expensive than most of the Hilton hotel properties for which I was searching.
It turns out that this is a “pop-under window” which snuck in on my computer screen, courtesy of Room Key and the “group of leading hotel companies” which founded it:
It seems to me that Room Key is to hotels as Orbitz was originally to airlines when it was first launched by a group of airlines back in 2001: it is a search tool formed by a partnership of hotel companies designed to offer one-stop shopping to the customer searching for options of where to stay — especially if the customer has not selected a place to stay as of yet.
This, of course, may not be as bizarre as earning 10,000 Hilton HHonors points per stay by staying at a Hyatt Hotel property — but does it not send the customer to the competition? Is there a possible fee paid to Hilton Worldwide for referring the customer to Marriott and other hotel properties, or is this simply just part of a mutual financial arrangement between the founding hotel companies? I am not certain at this time of the specific way these hotel companies are compensated through Room Key, but it — among other things — apparently helps reduce distribution costs.
While Room Key may be a potentially useful tool which could help customers search for a hotel room with a lower rate in less time than using the more traditional methods, some FlyerTalk members are not happy about having to involuntarily deal with “pop-up” advertising — and because Room Key was founded by a partnership between several major hotel chains, the discussion about Room Key can be found in several forums on FlyerTalk:
- Roomkey.com – New hotel booking service
- Pop-Under When Clicking “Find It” Button on hilton.com
- Pop up from Roomkey dot com?
- New hotel search engine
- Note re Roomkey.com pages
- Bad Web Site Gets Worse
Suggestions on how to prevent these “pop-under windows” from appearing on your computer screen are also offered by FlyerTalk members who are annoyed about this concept.
What are your thoughts about Room Key? Could it be potentially useful to you — or potentially irritating?