Guestmob is a new hotel booking website that is similar to Priceline and Hotwire. Hotwire and Priceline can offer steep discounts on hotel rooms because of “opaque booking,” that is the site does not disclose the hotel brand until after you have paid. By doing so these sites are able to offer steep discounts over the “rack rate,” the rate offered by the hotel itself or on more traditional online travel agencies.
Guestmob is also an opaque booking site but it differs in two significant ways from more traditional opaque booking systems like Priceline and Hotwire. The first is that Guestmob discloses the identity of the hotel upfront, but this is with a catch that I will discuss below. The second is that unlike Priceline and Hotwire the reservation is refundable if you cancel at least 72 hours in advance.
Let’s take a look at how Guestmob works.
First, you have to register. Registration is free and it only takes a minute. After that you can search for available hotels in your desired location. Currently Guestmob’s inventory is somewhat limited. They only have hotels available in 20 cities across the United States, including Portland, Oregon.
Once you select a city and dates you will see hotels grouped by star rating and a price for each star rating. You will also immediately see how this site differs from Priceline and Hotwire; the site discloses the hotels. Guestmob guarantees that you will get a room in one of those hotels for the price listed. The catch is that you are not told which hotel until the Thursday before your hotel stay (in the case of short term bookings you are told the same day). As an example let’s take a look at a stay next weekend, 5/10-5/12, in Portland.
Here are the choices and price for 4-star hotels next weekend.
The price is $152 per night and your hotel choices are The Benson, Embassy Suites, Hotel Monaco, and Hotel Modera. All are good hotels and the rate is pretty good. When I compared the prices to a traditional OTA like Travelocity the rate is about $7 – $27 cheaper depending on which hotel you were to get.
Here are your choices at the 3.5 star level.
The price is $89 per night and the hotel choices are The Paramount, Marriott City Center, Marriott Waterfront, and The Hilton. All of these are very good hotels and in fact I think they are just as good as the 4-star hotels. Compared to Travelocity the savings are even better than the 4-star hotels. The savings range from $10 to $80 depending on your hotel.
Clearly Guestmob offers a savings over a traditional OTA, but the big question in my mind is how does it compare to Hotwire and Priceline?
For the same weekend, Hotwire offers one 4-star hotel for $110.
I was not surprised by the comparison at all. It figures that the most opaque (Priceline) would offer the greatest savings and as the level of opaqueness decreases so do the savings.
I tend to think of Guestmob as Opaque Light. Hotels are disclosed up front, to a degree, and unlike Priceline or Hotwire the reservation can be canceled. For many people who are not comfortable with Priceline and Hotwire, this may be a great option. Guestmob offers a happy medium between some opaqueness, the ability to cancel a reservation, and savings.by