Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Orbitz Price Assurance + Expedia Inventory = Bingo?

Tripadvisor launched a new online hotel booking site today: Dont look for it (yet) on the Tripadvisor site however - not even as a search comparison option.

Tingo takes a little bit from Expedia (hotel inventory), a little bit from Orbitz (Price Assurance) and combines them into what is pitched as a new offering where consumers "just can't lose"

After a consumer books, Tingo continues to monitor the price of the booking to determine if the price has dropped. As many insiders know, hotels often actually drop rates as the departure date nears when demand fails to materialize. Yes, they raise rates too, but that isnt the issue if you have already booked. If Tingo finds the price has dropped, they rebook the room at the new price and refund the difference back to the hotel guest. Sound familiar?

Similar services exist today for air - Yapta anyone? Tripit Pro offers a similar feature for air. And Orbitz offers Price Assurance for hotels (and air) where they refund the difference if the price drops. Orbitz Price Assurance, however, requires another consumer to actually book the exact same stay (or airline ticket) for the refund to kick-in. Tingo promises the refund no matter what - back to "you just can't lose"

or can you?

Given Tingo offers hotel inventory only from Expedia (dig deep into the Ts&Cs for that) vs. a meta search model - this looks like just a slightly better place to buy a room from Expedia. And that is if you don't value Expedia Rewards....

Guestmob: A New Level of Stupidity for Hoteliers?

This morning, we saw a FB posting from a good friend about a new website, Guestmob claims to offer prices "20-50%" lower than Kayak by pitting hotels "against each other for the right to fill empty hotel rooms"

Consumers enter the site and pick a destination and dates par usual, and then offered a selection of hotels grouped by star quality and neighborhood. Sound familiar to Hotwire or Priceline? Yes, except the hotel name and brands are exposed. As are the retail prices for these hotels.

Next, a consumer selects the area and star level they want to stay in and is taken to a confirmation page showing the selection of hotels that Guestmob will later solicit (like a mini RFP) for the consumer's stay:

3 days before arrival, Guestmob lets the consumer know which hotel has "decided" to let them stay.

Hoteliers: downward rate spiral, anyone? Haven't we seen this movie?

Lets dive a little deeper, however...

First, we doubt that all of these hotels are actually participating in this platform. We kinda doubt that the distribution hawks over at Marriott have embraced a less opaque version of Priceline when they don't even participate in Hotwire. As for the other brands listed throughout the site, good for Guestmob if they have really signed up these chains but we think they are probably shills.

Second, Guestmob is listing competing OTAs and their "pricing." We imagine that the OTAs will probably find this rather distasteful for obvious reasons.

Finally, for hotels that actually are participating in Guestmob, I ask one question: WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

Hotels have been complaining for years about OTA margins and the lack of consumer brand loyalty. Opaque sales are an important revenue management tool but no one in the industry is particularly excited about growing the segment.

And yet, we still have hoteliers who apparently are seemingly not bothered by ANY of these issues and are willing to give street cred to what may be a very destructive model. Wow.