I am an avid hotel-booking-app user. I regularly toggle between Hotel Tonight, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz to hunt for rooms and deals when I travel. Sometimes I use them even when I don’t have travel plans as a way to decide where I want to go. I’m cheap!
I like to search Gogobot to browse by destination. I think Hipmunk offers a stellar user experience. I am not altogether unhappy with the app landscape right now, so I’m not necessarily in the market for a new hotel booking app, but I am always willing to try something new.
That’s why when I was approached by a friend who told me that a new hotel app would “be a game changer,” I was skeptical and wanted to try it out. My mind is rarely blown, but I like playing with new things.
So I downloaded Roomlia.
Roomlia co-founders Michael Reichartz and Jim Ferguson met while working at Expedia, and together they helped to build up the company’s global sales team. With Roomlia, they have tried to create an ideal user experience on both sides of the app — for users and hotels alike.
"We felt there was a need for consumers to have an app that made the shopping and booking experience better. Too many apps focus on same day only and many travelers can’t or won’t be that spontaneous. Apps that offered more booking dates felt very heavy and cumbersome to us, we wanted to ease that pain point for travelers," Reichartz said.
My issue with Hotel Tonight, which offers some of the best deals in the industry, is the fact that you can book only for that night. Roomlia allows you to book seven nights in advance of your stay, which I think gives it an advantage.
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Also, unlike most apps, Roomlia has no ties to a user’s credit card information. It passes the credit card data on to the hotel securely, which means that the user can handle booking changes directly with his or her hotel of choice, making it much easier on the traveler and the hotel.
After spending hours dealing with customer-service reps from various other booking apps and hotel managers who shook their heads sadly at me and told me their hands were tied when it came to pricing, this feature has me excited.
Then there is Roomlia’s “swipe to book” feature. They promise booking in two steps in two minutes.
Roomlia starts out by showing you cities and availability. You don’t fill anything out. You just see something that looks like this:
On the next page are the hotels with rates. A red bar across the hotel means that a deal has been negotiated for a deeply discounted rate.
You click again on the hotel and then click on a “Book Now” button, and then you are taken to a page to enter your personal and payment information.
The process took me, a first-time user, about five minutes. The swiping functionality was a delight, and booking once your information is in the system involves fewer clicks than I am used to, even though it was more than two.
The downside is that Roomlia isn’t everywhere you want to be — yet. Right now, the app has hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Miami, Orlando, and the Florida Keys.
They told me that they plan to expand soon to Atlantic City, New Orleans, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C., and eventually abroad.
Overall it was a nice user experience, quick and painless and enjoyable. While I don’t know if Roomlia and I will have a monogamous relationship going forward, I am happy to add it to my lineup of partners.