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A New Website Sells Off Non-Refundable Hotel Reservations at Deep Discounts

Often, if you want the cheapest hotel room price, you have to consent to a non-refundable rate, and that makes it impossible to change plans without eating the cost. But a newly launched website, Roomer (found at, was designed with one purpose in mind: It gets travelers out of non-refundable reservations.

It functions as an intermediary between people who are stuck with hotel rooms they can't use and people who want a deal. Sellers post their unwanted reservations on the site at a price they set. If the room is purchased, the site, which has already authenticated the reservation with the hotel, also handles the transaction on its secure platform and also makes the necessary changes on the reseveration's name. All a buyer has to do is check into the hotel as if they had purchased their room normally. The taxes and fees charged by the property are tacked on, as normal.

Fortunately, this system breeds deals since sellers are encouraged to mark down their offering price far below the going rates. Roomer suggests that users chop their offering prices by as much as half what they paid, but in practice, deals of about a third off normal rates are more common.

The seller washes her hands of a hotel room without taking a total loss. And the buyer saves a bundle.

For comparison, Roomer also quotes the full price from a full-price vendor such as Expedia, but take those numbers with a grain of salt and perform your own price comparisons before purchasing, because when I checked, the supposedly full-price rate didn't exactly match what I found on other sites, even if they were in the ballpark. However, no matter the full price, the Roomer rate was still always lower than I could find anywhere else—sometimes by $60 or more.

In fact, during some recent research on rooms in Manhattan during the New York Marathon weekend, Roomer posted availability in hotels that Expedia was listing as fully booked—so it's not just handy for finding deals, but also for finding a room in a sold-out town.

The site, which is funded by Israeli venture capitalists, does not currently charge for its services (although the payment method you use, such as PayPal, may levy fees of its own). In the future, it may make money by charging a 15% fee on the price set by the seller. But for now, it means that buyers pay no extra fees to score a deal.

After a few months serving only New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, Roomer went national across the United States this week.

Have you used Roomer, either as a buyer or a seller?  What was your experience like?