Wednesday, February 21, 2007 - first media review

A bit of chatter in the travel trade media today following the official launch of, which claims to be the “first independent video hotel review and bookings site”.

Here’s our review:

The hotel information that is available (I’ll get to that in a bit) is about the most comprehensive I’ve seen, providing distances to nearest tube stations, check-out times, whether there is a fitness centre, modem lines, conferencing facilities... The list goes on.

The site also scores big points for having clearly visible essential information, including local UK and international contact numbers on the home page.

This may sound a bit strange, but I liken it to having a phone in a hotel room—you never use the thing, it’s just good to know it’s there.

I also like the idea of the currency tab, which allows you to display room prices in various currencies, though it would be more helpful if there was an exchange rate function.

I first tested the site’s search capability by requesting a Marriott hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. This was a trick question- there are no Marriotts in Cape Town.

The site returned the message: “These hotels are not yet available, however are coming shortly”.

These hotels are coming shortly? Does this mean Marriott hotels are coming to Cape Town shortly?

They very well may be, but this is not what the message meant.

I got the same message for various destinations, even when I just did a broad city search, without choosing any particular hotel brand.

Of the 10 city searches I conducted (excluding Cape Town), the site returned information for only two - Barcelona and Paris.

It would seem, at this stage, is missing the “hotels” bit.

Despite not returning any results for the eight cities I entered, the site did provide a brief destination information box.

Whilst the idea is a good one, the cheesy brochure description is somewhat flawed. A better idea would be to give the local weather, time difference, best times of year to visit, which carriers fly there, etc.

The site also prompted me to “Click Here to tell us what you are looking for”, so I did.

I was sorely disappointed to see an email registration form, which was followed by a bold banner assuring me that someone would respond to my email.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a response to my email because I don’t want to have to send an email in the first place.

I want to get the information I’m looking for then and there and preferably in three clicks or less. If I can’t, I’m gone.

But what really irritated me was that, when I hit the “back” button, I got the “This Page Cannot Be Displayed” message. Aargh!

After re-loading the site, I clicked on the video player tab, which rather bizarrely took me straight to a review of the Rookery Hotel in London.

Fascinating as the Rookery was (admittedly, the room looked great), I tried to search for a video of another hotel, but to no avail.

The last stop on my review road test was the feedback section, which to my disappointment is effectively an online survey of the website.

Not exactly what I had hoped for.

I was more interested in watching video clips of customers giving their opinion of various hotels, a la TripAdvisor, which, as it turns out, recently added a video feature.

Instead I got a lesson on the Rookery’s Victorian claw footed bathtubs.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tricia, thank you for reviewing It is great to get professional feedback. On the back of this we have removed the search function, as the point behind the site is to highlight selected hotels, not for any hotel to be featured. Therefore using the Destinations area is required. is committed to showcasing interesting hotels of all categories by using images, information and of course video. Many of our current customers are corporate based, hence not displaying many rates throughout the site. These clients require a personalised service and negotiated rates for bedrooms and meeting rooms. We are currently in the process of developing a very unique and objective way for leisure and corporate clients to book. In the meantime we will slowly add more online rates and availability, integrating online bookings with our bespoke corporate service. However, our present objective is to empower online users by giving them the information required to make an informed choice of hotel- we believe video is the best way to do this. If customers only use as a resource and book elsewhere for now, then they will go to other websites richer and better informed. It's all about managing expectations and presenting the real picture.

Thanks again for your valuable contribution.

Harrison Brown