Leading last-minute booking app HotelTonight has blazed the trail for mobile-first eCommerce since their launch in 2010, allowing users to find a hotel, tonight. The simple concept has led to $80.7 Million in funds raised, 10,000+ Hotels on board, 11 Million downloads (2.5 Million of which are in Europe), and, more recently, new offices opening in Berlin, Paris, Sydney & Toronto.
During his visit to Paris, I sat down with HotelTonight co-founder & COO Jared Simon to talk about one of HotelTonight’s biggest changes to their app, the ability to book Hotels 7 days out. Simon says that, while they initially assumed that ‘last minute’ meant same-day booking, they realized that, for both travelers and for hotels, booking a hotel anytime in the next 7 days was seen as ‘last-minute.’ As would be expected, both sides – consumers and Hotels – had been asking for such a feature for quite some time.
As is to be expected, increasing bookings to include the next 7 days opens HotelTonight up to another chunk of the bookings market – about 35% to be exact. Indeed, an increasing number of bookings are happening in the last week before a trip, and studies show that roughly 50% of online bookings are happening in the last 7 days, as opposed to 15% for same-day booking.
While Simon says he doesn’t expect to conquer this market immediately, HotelTonight is preparing itself to become a good friend to the Hotel industry. Those new offices around the world are meant to bring HotelTonight closer to key cities – and hey hotels. One of HotelTonight’s most distinguished traits have been their amazing photos of each and every Hotel on the app. This comes from the fact that, for each of the aforementioned 10,000+ hotels, HotelTonight sends a photographer on-site to make sure they capture the best qualities of each hotel, qualities which Simon said are lost on Hotel websites with stock photography and bad lighting.
What about going beyond Hotels?
HotelTonight has a great grasp of helping users book hotels, and helping Hotels fill excess inventory – it is a win-win. And it is exactly for that reason that I think that HotelTonight cannot stay only about Hotels forever: why not book a last-minute flight, or order last-minute Opera tickets? Simon says that HotelTonight can see itself managing “Anything with an expiration date;” however, there is so much growth left to be found in the Hotel industry – HotelTonight had 500% YoY growth in Europe last year, 300% in Paris – that the company doesn’t see a need to expand out beyond hotels just yet.
It’s no wonder that HotelTonight took hold so well in France – despite local competitors like VeryLastRoom – Europe is built almost intentionally for last-minute travel: I’m 2 hours from London(Train), 2 hours from Cologne(Train), 2 hours from Venice (Plane), 2 Hours from Berlin (Plane) – I could be in about 20 cities with 1 Million+ inhabitants by tonight if I started planning this morning.