Well, this happened quicker than I thought. Just about a month after I reported on the differences between choosing your airplane seat versus your hotel room, the technology for picking a hotel room was still very much in the developing stages. But, thanks to London hotel chain, GLH Hotels and their newly launched ChooseYourOwnRoom.com, you can now chose your room at any of their hotels. The GLH brand includes Clermont, Amba Hotels, Guoman Hotels, Every Hotels, Thistle Hotels, and Thistle Express.
GLH Hotels lets you choose a room based on different services, like business needs, a certain view, family accommodation, or price points like budget or suite. Additionally, you can also pick your room by hotel or location.
This is very exciting for travelers who value this perk, and it seems to be in-demand, as other brands have been looking into this technology for years, but have reached setbacks in the amount of inventory and how to integrate the operating system across different booking platforms. But, because all GLH hotels use the same operating system and there are only 14 properties (about 5,000 rooms) in one city, it eliminates these challenges.
The Other Brands Involved
Room 77, which licensed its technology to Google two years ago, is a metasearch engine that tries to find the best price at the best hotel, and lets you pick the best type of room available. You can make your decision based on images available of a room’s view, surroundings, and preference list at properties. There are even “Insider Tips from the Hotel” which give you advice, like which floors offer the best views, or which side of the hotel is quieter. While it doesn’t guarantee you will be checked into an exact, specific room of your choosing, it does send your request of room preference to the hotel.
Hilton is also exploring this technology through their Hilton HHonors program. The mobile app allows members to chose the exact room they want, one day before their check-in date. This feature is available at the majority of their properties worldwide. And now, thanks to a partnership with Google Maps, you can see what view each room has and which rooms offer digital check-in—which is on a first-come, first-served basis.
So, unlike Room 77 and Hilton, GLH hotels not only lets you actually pick your room, it also lets you do so at the time of booking, which is up to 50 weeks out.
Why Picking Your Room Isn’t a Mainstream Option
Unlike seats on a plane, hotel rooms operate on a much more variable scale. Certain people have late check-out, others have early check-in, the list goes on. On top of this, the length of stay varies by traveler, unlike a flight, and many guests will have last-minute requests—which is expected in the hotel industry.
Another major issue is that there is no universal property management system. This means it’s much more difficult for booking sites to know when and which rooms are available for bookings. On top of this, the technology to make this possible requires all hotel layouts be uploaded into a system, as well as images and lists of features in certain rooms. Then there is the integration between people who are checking-in normally by getting assigned a room at the front desk verses people selecting a room online.
So, since GLH only has 14 properties in one city all under the same operating system, it eliminates most of the technological setbacks, even though it still is no small feat to upload information on over 5,000 rooms.
Will It Ever Be Possible? Yes.
With GLH’s launch, only time will tell what other small to mid-size hotel chains will start incorporating this technology. Alternatively, with so many hotel mergers and consolidation, there is potential for a universal property management system, or at least a more widely used one. This would theoretically make it easier to have a digital room selection system. Clearly the interest is present—GLH Hotels Chief Marketing Officer Colin Roy told Skift that in the piloted pool of guests, 97 percent said they would use it again or recommend it to friends—so in time we could see this feature more widespread.
You Tell Us: Would you like to be able to pick out your specific hotel room? If so, would you pay extra?
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