If you’ve ever had to reserve a block of hotel rooms for a conference or wedding, you know how complicated the process can be. YC-Backed Roomblocker is a service that handles the entire group booking process, from gathering bids to accepting reservations for people in the group.
Here’s how Roomblocker works: First, the company assigns each group organizer to a dedicated concierge, who walks them through the entire booking process.
The concierge will invite a selected group of pre-approved hotels to submit bids and concessions (things like free wireless or room upgrades), which will all be presented to organizers in an online dashboard.
Having a Roomblocker concierge negotiating for the group means that they will typically obtain better pricing and concessions then they would booking on their own.
The organizer then chooses a hotel, and Roomblocker creates a group reservation page where guests reserve their rooms online. While seemingly a simple feature, having a custom reservations page for guests is extremely helpful for group organizers, who normally are stuck tracking down each guest to obtain booking information.
Now organizers get access to a dashboard with a live rooming list, inventory of available rooms, and automated reminders for guests to reserve their rooms.
Roomblocker is completely free for groups to use. The company generates revenue by taking a commission from hotels for bookings made through the platform. Founded by ex-Salesforcers Dave Yen and Michael Wang, the company’s early customers include Salesforce and Dropbox, as well as a heavy percentage of weddings and personal trips.
According to the company, 25 percent of all hotel reservations belong to a room block, and group hotel bookings are now a $137 billion market worldwide. Roomblocker is aiming to capture the vast majority of this market, as the company can arrange room blocks of anywhere from tens to hundred of rooms per night.
Yen and Wang explained that a big priority is improving the customer experience by modernizing the traditionally outdated group booking process. For example, most hotels require faxed signatures pages, which Roomblocker now provides to the group organizer in a e-signature format. The company also plans to eventually handle payments from guests, a feature requested by both hotels and group organizers.