Hotel Calculator is a website that searches multiple databases and listings to provide an aggregated search result for hotels. I was recently asked to review this site and here is my assessment:
Unlike several other meta search engines, this website uses simple but intuitive user interface and navigation. There were no annoying animations or flashy graphics to distract my attention. I was surprised to know that there can be quality websites that don’t shove advertisements on your face.
When I tried searching for hotels in Paris, I was presented with an overwhelming 1883 search results as seen in the screenshot below.
Search results with filtering options highlighted in red.
Initially I was puzzled about what I could do with all these results and there is no ‘advanced-search’ facility to pre-select your parameters. No worries though, I soon discovered a neat feature of this search. By choosing parameters such as location, amenities, rating and type in the left sidebar, I could narrow the results down to a handful. The tool also works for travelers like me who don’t necessarily want to spend tons on accommodation.
The website claims to have 100,000 hotels indexed in addition to 28 hotel reservation agencies. As a result of this consolidation, you can see a comparison of all the hotels in an area. The website has a bunch of languages and large number of currencies to choose from which is really good, since credit card companies give a bad exchange rate if you are stuck with a foreign currency.
I was not aware of this meta search website until they contacted me and I was certainly impressed. Here are the top three things I liked:
- The website has a simple layout and its database searches several other hotel search websites. This is especially useful rather than spending time searching on multiple websites.
- The iPhone application is a cool idea for those on the go. I browsed the website on my iPod touch and it was seamless.
- The site’s ability to filter search results, in detail, was the selling point. You can select a specific geographical location or things like internet access, 24-hour front desk, etc.
As a critique: Since much of web 2.0 depends on customer ratings and feedback, Hotel Calculator should consider somehow encouraging guests to come back and leave a review (and maybe win a prize?). While the website has hotel ratings, there are very few customer reviews (probably because the website is new?).