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Last year, I wrote about Cancelon, a website that allows users to list nonrefundable hotel reservations they aren’t able to use in hopes that someone else is willing to take over that reservation (typically at a discount). I’ve flipped through it a few times since I first wrote the overview and I still haven’t used it since it has a clunky user interface and discounts that aren’t high enough to justify the risk of an issue at check-in.
Roomer is a similar service but much more user-friendly.
I was mostly interested in the ability to sell a nonrefundable reservation. I love to use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” tool to book hotels at half off, but all of those reservations are prepaid and nonrefundable (with a few exceptions). While I tend to only use this booking strategy when my plans are firm, you never know when an emergency change in plans might come up. Roomer offers a method to try and recoup those costs.
Regardless of how you originally purchased the room, listing a reservation for sale on Roomer is simple. You’ll type in the hotel name, address, room type, reservation number, and asking price before emailing the confirmation to Roomer for validation. You sit back and wait, hoping that someone else can use your reservation. If they buy your reservation, Roomer does all the work to change the name on the reservation and collect payment. They’ll forward on the payment to you 10 days after check-out via Western Union or Paypal. Roomer does not currently take a cut of your room price, though Paypal fees will apply.
Just to try out the service, I listed a room that I had booked and haven’t decided whether or not I’ll use yet. I wouldn’t mind getting some cash for that reservation, but I can always use the reservation if it doesn’t end up selling. As an experiment, this one seems pretty fool-proof. So far, everything with Roomer has been easy but I haven’t seen any interest from prospective buyers.
Buyers can use their simple interface to search. Just like any other website, just type in the city and dates of stay and you’ll be taken to a results screen. If you’re flexible on destination and/or dates of stay, there are some great bargains available. However, you’re limited to reservations that other guests have listed for sale, which means you may not find something. Inventory is obviously subject to change, so frequent checking may end up being fruitful (I’d love to see an email alert feature in the future!).
The great part about Roomer is that there are tons of buyer protections. They are the ones transferring the hotel reservation to your name and you’ll receive a confirmation letter with your name on the reservation. If there’s a hiccup at check-in or during your stay, there’s a 24/7 customer service hotline so they can help smooth things over. And if you can’t check in for some reason? Roomer will set you up with a new, last-minute reservation at that hotel (or similar). If they can’t solve the problem, you’ll receive a full refund. That’s great customer service though their testimonials share that things go right the first time around!
I love that Roomer validates every room reservation, keeps your information private, offers a back-up plan for buyers, and makes payment simple for sellers. All of this adds up to a potentially great service. The current downside, though, is that the website just isn’t big enough yet. Sellers may struggle with having too few customers looking and buying rooms and buyers won’t find enough availability for this to be a solution for all their hotel needs. Still, I think there’s good potential with Roomer and with growth in their user base, it could be a good option.
Have you ever had to forfeit a nonrefundable reservation? Would Roomer have been a good option for you at the time?