HotelTonight co-founder told BigHopsitality that the app, which previously only offered same-day deals, was re-launched to offer hotels and consumers more flexibility, while maintaining a focus on a last-minute offer.
“We are known for offering the flexibility that hotels don’t get from anywhere else, so we listened to feedback from the hotels we work with,” he said. “But we are not comprising our focus on last minute bookings. We found that consumer behaviour when booking a hotel seven days out is actually very similar to that for same-day bookings.”
The re-designed app also features an improved hotel-facing online interface, giving hotels more control over their last-minute inventory and enabling them to preview the impact of offering last minute discounts, with market intelligence and pricing guidance.
HotelTonight has also created themed ‘playlists’ of hotels with recommendations on when and where to book, which it claimed should provide additional opportunities to be discovered by new guests.
Launched in San Francisco in 2011, HotelTonight currently works with around 300-500 hotels in 20 cities across the UK, but is planning ‘aggressive’ expansion.
“We want to become ubiquitous – anywhere you need a hotel room we will be there. Our goal over the next year is to become very aggressive,” Simon said.
Consumers can search by city, and are presented with a list of hotels which are ‘hand-picked’ by the app using an algorithm that takes into account the users location and the rates and deals on offer.
The list changes daily and features a mix of hotels across five different ‘style’ categories – lux, hip, solid, basic and crashpad.
“When booking last minute you know more about what you are in the mood for so we don’t list the hotels by star ratings, we categorise them depending on their mood,” Simon explained.
Simon said the app differs from online travel agents (OTA) because of the simplicity of its pricing system – hotels are charged a 15 per cent commission if a booking is made and hotels can offer rooms as and when they are available – and the fact it doesn’t try to compete with hotels.
“If a customer books through us and enjoys the hotel, there is no guarantee that when they are back in the city the same hotel will show up on the list, so they are more likely to book directly,” he explains.
“The hotels we work with tell us that guest who book through us generally spend more and are more loyal.”