IDEA #33 – Motel Pricing and Availability by Phone

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When I’m traveling on road trips, I hate finding a motel. I usually wait until I’m dead tired and find the next one — I hope it’s not sketchy and reasonably priced. Typically, it’s very sketchy.

It’d be great to know the closest motels from my location on whatever highway I’m on — also the price, availability, how many beds, is there truck parking, is there a pool, wireless internet, and what have others rated the property … or what are their comments?

I’m imaging the service happening all by calling on a phone. The system would call the motels each night (using VXML) and the motels would answer a question or two — maybe they get a call around 6pm and then another around 9pm, and the system asks them what their availability is like (“low availability”, “no vacancy”, “lots of rooms”).

The user could then call a phone number, somehow specify where they are (maybe voice recognition, “West Lafayette, Indiana”, as well as what highway you’re on and which way you’re headed on it) and specify any key options they want by speaking or pressing through a series of menus (“must have 2 beds”, “must not be sketchy”, “must have cable TV”) — then they are told the closest motels.

Motels could also pay money to be given to the user ahead of others (with a mile range). Maybe the user could secure their motel room before even showing up — they could negotiate via the system what they’re willing to pay (a la Priceline.com), and then the first motel to accept, gets paid through the system and everything is taken care of.

This could also all be done for hotels too. I was just thinking of the road trips I’ve taken in the past where I’m looking for cheap, typically late at night, and not sketchy.