Unfortunate Brand Names
By Vijay Dandapani
Monday, 13th July 2009
The hotel industry has mercifully been spared when it comes to choosing unfortunate brand names that, in some instances, have had decidedly deleterious outcomes for the owners.

In the latter category General Motors' Nova is one of the more prominent ones as nova in Spanish could translate into "won't move".

The most colossal misnomer for the industry occurred in the eighties when the grandiloquently named Allegis corporation was slated to become a travel powerhouse that included Westin, Hilton International, Hertz and United Airlines. It perished in short order.

Lately, the industry has been on a tear with new names with appeal with a capital A including Aloft, Andaz and Ascend besides Element, NYLO and a host of others.

However, the founders of one of the most successful distribution channels in the age of the internet have launched a high profile new venture that they have chosen to name Getaroom.com. The model is arguably suspect for more than its unfortunate choice of a name. The Urban Dictionary defines "get a room" roughly as a social situation that compels a couple to find a hotel room as a consequence of their behavior.

The larger issue, though, is the business model of Getaroom. The company states that it sets itself apart from its competitors in that customers know the hotel in advance but not the discounted price which they get from reaching a proprietary call center.

But apart from the many teething problems it faces, the model is built around price opacity. The site's founders are quoted as saying "Hotels don't want their rates published. Occupancy is weak across the board, but hotels don't want to lower their price across all distribution channels."

The last part is true but other room suppliers can easily observe competitors' prices through a number of informational sources including direct observation. The ostensible edge they have is likely to get steadily eroded as both hotels other distribution channels get a measure of the discounts.

Apart from spurring an unsustainable race to the bottom for hotels, the model likely does little for the consumer and even less for hotels.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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