getaroom, the hotel website created by the founders of hotels.com, is sticking with its strategy of driving customers to book over the phone instead of online.
Launched in the summer of 2009, getaroom uses what some have called a reverse opaque model -- it displays hotel pricing online, but tells customers to call a toll-free number "for rates too low to publish."
Bob Diener, who founded the site with fellow hotels.com originator David Litman, says the close rate is "10 times higher" over the phone than online, and it is "much more difficult to upsell someone online."
getaroom has its own call center in Dallas with about 100 employees.
Diener says getaroom is busy expanding in new markets -- in the last couple of weeks Philadelphia, Charleston, St. Louis, San Antonio, Atlanta, Honolulu and San Juan came on board -- and claims the company has grown 40% in the last two months.
getaroom offers hotel rooms in about 40 cities and is focusing on expansion in Europe, including Venice, Madrid, Berlin and Prague, Diener says.
He says the company is emphasizing hotel promotions, particularly in Europe, where the average stay already is longer than in the U.S., to get guests to stay additional nights.
"So, it's a better customer for us and a better customer for the hotel," Diener says.
So, what else is in the works for getaroom.com?
Diener says the company plans to introduce a customer retention and referral program by the end of the first quarter of 2011, and new TV and radio commercials are planned.