People still want to travel in a recession, and if flying across the country or an ocean or two and then staying in a hotel room found on the Internet -- only to find it's not as clean a room as the hotel promised -- can lead to frustration.
TVTrip.com is a Web site that's trying to take the guesswork out of finding out if the $99 Internet deal on a hotel room is really a place you want to stay, by allowing travelers to watch videos of hotels around the world and possibly "trade down" in their hotel stays by seeing more of a hotel before they book a trip.
Whether or not that saves them money is debatable, especially with Internet deals everywhere. But seeing the videos should save travelers money, said Steve Stollerman, North America vice president for TVTrip.com.
"In today's world, where the whole world is on sale," the best thing a travel Web site can do is offer better tools for its users, Stollerman said in an interview this week. No one is saving money if all of the hotel prices people find online are the same, or close to being the same, he said.
"Getting a great price -- that's kind of a given today," he said.
The "video reassurance" is best for two- and three-star hotels, and even four-star hotels, said Stollerman, who equates the time saved in finding a good hotel worth something to a traveler. Time is money, as they saying goes.
Professional camera operators are hired in cities in America, Asia and Europe to film hotels. Neither the hotels or partner travel sites with TVTrip.com pay to have the hotels filmed or put on the Web site. TVTrip.com also allows hotel bookings on its site through six partner sites, including Expedia and Hotels.com.
Most hotel Web sites don't have video, and if they do they're "long, flowery infomercials," Stollerman said.
"By the time you as a consumer find what you're looking for, you've wasted time and money," he said.
More than 3,000 hotels have been filmed by TVTrip.com, with 75% in Europe and the rest split among Asia and the United States. Various rooms are shows in the videos, including suites, single rooms, and photos and descriptions of amenities are included.
In research, TVTrip.com found that travelers wanted the video reassurance, which is something that's difficult to put a price tag on said Stollerman. Video is captivating, like watching TV, and may look more trustworthy than photos.