The Scoop: As third-party travel booking sites became more popular, hotels began to lose their direct relationships with customers. Travelers, particularly couples on special trips, not only want the best price — they also want the ability to shop around. In 2010, six of the biggest hotel brands in the world came together to find a way to reconnect with customers, and Room Key was born. A hotel booking site, Room Key offers hotel loyalty rates — most often the lowest available — to consumers while allowing them to choose from over 45,000 hotels worldwide. All rooms are booked directly with the hotels, meaning a traveler can take advantage of all the rewards points and perks that come with being a brand loyalist. Room Key continues to grow as it expands worldwide to reward customers while building loyalty.

When third-party hotel booking sites began to flourish in the mid-2000s, a concerning trend became apparent to hoteliers. While customers were getting good deals through a variety of booking sites, their loyalty to hotel brands themselves was waning.

That dynamic had drawbacks for both parties, as hotels lost out on the chance to build relationships and consumers were unable to take advantage of the many perks that come with being a repeat customer.

In 2010, six major hotel brands — Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, and Wyndham Worldwide — came together to find a way to rekindle that relationship with the customer.

That meeting of influential minds led to the founding of a new booking site called Room Key, and its mission was to stand out from the others. The man tasked with running Room Key, CEO Steve Sickel, had a special perspective on how to accomplish that goal.

“My dad used to tell me, ‘Only do what only you can do.’ That means: Understand what your unique streng