Room77 is a new hotel room search engine unveiled to rave reviews at the Launch conference today. It shows you floor maps, a photo of each room's view and when available, a photo of the room itself. That way when you make a reservation, you can request exactly the room you know you want to stay in.Not all hotel rooms are created equal.
The company's lead engineer is Calvin Yang, a former Googler who designed Google Images years ago. It was founded by Brad Gerstner, a serial entrepreneur, investor and veteran of the travel tech world. The service uses some math and Google Street View to estimate what the view is like out a room's window until someone goes and uploads a photo. The service then advises users how to call a hotel to request a specific room - for example, call 48 hours before your reservation, not 2 weeks ahead. It's an impressive service and won over almost all the judges at Launch.
Will hotels go for it? Some appear to be unhappy so far, but when they get turned on to the lodging equivalent of the airline up-sell ("pay for extra leg room?") they'll probably change their minds.
What criticism there's been so far of the service seems focused on the demand among business travelers for a room with a good view. Not everyone is convinced that the people who travel the most really care.
Many companies among the 100 plus here at Launch are trying to change the travel industry. Others include the much-hyped flight search interface Hipmunk, the panoramic travel destination community Tour Wrist and a personal trip-planning service called Trip Bod.
With its pedigree, pizzaz and clear, compelling value proposition, Room77 is the most likely travel app here to make a big name for itself.