Hotel attrition penalties are an expensive nuisance for event professionals. Now Roomer, an online marketplace to connect people stuck with rooms they can’t use with travelers looking for accommodations, is targeting planners with the launch of its Roomer Partner Network. The system allows planners to advertise unused hotel rooms from group bookings so consumers can purchase those rooms at a discounted rate. Roomer keeps 15 percent of the rate as a processing fee, and the balance goes to the planner.
“We are a like a StubHub for hotel rooms,” said Richie Karaburun, Roomer’s managing director. “Look at us as an asset recovery tool so we can maximize your room block and minimize your losses that come from lack of usage.” Karaburun estimates that $8.6 billion in cancellation fees is paid each year in the United States alone, and the majority of that is tied to meeting and group reservations.
To post unneeded rooms, planners create an account on the website and add the hotel name, check-in and check-out dates, number of rooms, and price. Karaburun suggests pricing rooms at about 50 percent less than the original rate. Roomer also shows the current market price, pulled from sites such as Expedia, to help planners determine what to charge. As long as the hotel works with one of the online travel agencies, such as Expedia or Booking.com, the system can automatically pulls in photos and property descriptions to enhance the listing.
Roomer validates the listing before posting it on the site and also shares it through Google advertising and social media. Roomer also maintains the seller’s privacy: The consumer buying a room does not communicate with the seller or the hotel. Once a room is purchased, Roomer gives the name of the buyer to the planner to add it to the event’s rooming list. The planner provides a confirmation number, which Roomer then shares with the buyer.