I saw a press release today on TMC.net touting a new hotel search and booking site;
" Hotel.mobi, a portal run by Quinv SA, a Luxembourg-based company that invests in domain names and high value web portals, has announced the official launch of its website, http://www.hotel.mobi a web directory enabling mobile users to find the hotels near their current location and call the hotels' booking desks in one single click."
All of which sounds great. For some reason mobile sites for hotel chains and booking agencies tend to be incredibly bad. I was hoping that hotel.mobi would be different. When I visited the site with a PC browser I saw a non-mobile page about the mobile version. It sounded pretty good:
"Find hotels instantly in the city you are in then simply click to call to make a reservation."
The promotional page goes on to say that the mobile site features "Geo Loacalisation", "The best and most recent prices" and Google maps. All of which makes it sound like hotel.mobi is the answer to travelers' prayers, finally an easy to use mobile site that actually lets you quickly find and book the best hotels deals using only your mobile browser.
So I went to hotel.mobi with my N95 and typed in "San Francisco". I got a 115 results, basically just a list of hotel names in alphabetical order; no prices, no address, no phone number and no indication if these hotels had any availability. That's not a good start, to be useful for price comparison, prices need to be included in initial results and there needs to be a way to filter or sort by price. You also don't want to see listings for hotels that are full and you need to have some indication of how far away each property is.
Not giving up, I clicked on several of the hotels to see if the promised features were buried a bit deeper. When I clicked a hotel name I got a page with just the hotel's address and a "Display Details" link that led to yet another page with a description of the property and it's amenities. But there was no map, no prices and no click to call phone number, in fact no phone number at all, although a few hotels did list an mailto: email address or a fax number. I tried using Opera Mini and got the same results as with the built-in browser.
What a huge disconnect between what's promised and what's actually delivered. I'm hoping that the advanced mobile site described in the press release and on the PC web site is just not quite finished yet and what I'm seeing is an old or placeholder version. I'll be watching hotel.mobi for the next few days and will update this post if the situation improves. For now at least, Hotel.mobi continues the tradition of mobile hotel search sites being mostly useless.
Even if hotel.mobi does eventually turn in to something great, sending out press releases and doing promotions on the web for something that isn't actually available seems like a bad idea. I'm sure few if any mobile visitors to hotel.mobi in it's current sorry state will ever return. Source: TMC.net via Mobility.Mobi
Update: Someone from Hotel.mobi left a comment (see below) saying that many of the hotels in search results for London and Luxembourg do have click to call numbers which I've confirmed is true. The numbers are on the main search listing which I like. Listings for Luxembourg also include star rankings, a good indication of price. The sort order is not alphabetical for the London and Luxembourg listings either although I can't tell what it actually is. Proximity to the city center, perhaps? All in all good news. If the hotel.mobi team continues to build their site by adding more of the features listed on their promotional web page it could turn out to be one of the better mobile hotel search sites.
Ratings: Content Usability:
Ready.mobi Score: 4 "Good"
Mobile Link: hotel.mobi