NEW YORK: HotelTonight, an app enabling last-minute hotel bookings, has successfully shown how mobile can offer unique forms of utility to consumers while also encouraging incremental purchase occasions.
Sam Shank, HotelTonight's co-founder/ceo, discussed this subject at TechCrunch's Disrupt NY 2015 conference.
The app – which has been downloaded over 11m times – lets users make reservations at a curated list of hotels for competitive prices. It initially focused on same-day bookings, but has since extended that period to seven days in advance.
"It's about really last-minute. It's about then making last-minute incredibly awesome," said Shank. (For more, including details of the firm's marketing strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: HotelTonight seeks to disrupt the travel disruptors.)
"So: really great deals; really great hotels; almost brain-dead simple – you don't have to read through thousands of hotels and hundreds of thousands of reviews to find the right hotel for you.
"We did all the quality control and curation ahead of time; and then the booking was only three taps and a swipe."
Between 40% and 45% of the company's reservations are attributable to business travellers at present, according to Shank, showing its product can address various possible use cases.
"What we found is: if you build a really good consumer product that solves a problem of great last-minute booking solution, that [also] works for business travellers," he said.
Unlike platforms such as Groupon – which tend to rely on soliciting discounts on advance bookings – HotelTonight's stated aim is assisting accommodation providers in filling rooms that are expected to be unoccupied.
"We thought that we could unlock new use cases … for people that might be out, might be convinced to spend the night, might be convinced to book an incremental hotel stay through our hotel partners," Shank said.
"It wasn't that we wanted to take their same-day bookings … and we've proven that we haven't done that."
From the consumer-side, its service has also offered both greater flexibility as well as heightened predictability, as people looking for a room know there is a strong chance of a desirable destination being available.
"We really never sell out: we always have something. And we typically are going to be the guys that have the last rooms in a particular city," said Shank.
"We, ultimately, feel like we help people be more spontaneous in their lives. That's sort of the motto of HotelTonight – make the world more spontaneous, help people enjoy the serendipity of life."
Data sourced from Warc