21. January 2013–
HotelTonight – a last-minute hotel booking app – is today expanding into Germany and Switzerland, starting with Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Geneva and with Hamburg up next.
The US-based company, led by CEO Sam Shank and backed by $35m in venture capital, is currently sitting at four million downloads for its app across Android and iOS and covers about 80 cities (15 of those in Europe).
How HotelTonight works
The app is pretty self-explanatory. If you need a hotel in Berlin, for example, HotelTonight will present you with between four or five options available for a same-day booking discount, which can be done quickly and easily from within the app.
On the other side, partner hotels use an app of their own to manage how many rooms they list and at what price. "It's all realtime," Shank explained. "They say 'OK, we just had a cancellation – we're going to load 20 rooms or drop our price'. Or, 'we just had 20 rooms listed and a big group just showed up out of the blue, so we're going to close our HotelTonight'."
Just a hotel app – but riding top trends
HotelTonight taps into wider trends worth exploring: yield-management (helping suppliers manage customer demand to make the most of their stock), a new generation of local commerce startups post-Groupon, and smartphone-enabled spontaneity.
"There's this move towards 'I used to plan all the time, now I can just live spontaneously through my technology'," Shank said, citing examples in the US such as Uber (which launched in Berlin last week), GrubHub and WillCall ("HotelTonight for tickets").
He's expecting we'll see more yield-management companies and apps in future. "Whether it's clubs, spas, restaurants – any time you see an empty table, that's an opportunity for a business to make money and the consumer to make the discount."
Image credit: Flickr user Éole