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This would be a major shift in HotelTonight's core functionality and model
The idea of traveling somewhere and not booking a hotel in advance saces the heck out of me. I've thought about being adventurous and going on vacation without knowing where I'd crash for the evening. But I'm just not brave enough to do it. I'm appropriately ashamed of this fact. Trust me.
Thank goodness, there's the HotelTonight, which focuses on helping people find those last-minute bookings at better-than-retail prices. The only problem for HotelTonight - there's just too many people, like myself, who prefer not to wait.
So HotelTonight is doing the only sensible thing to solve this problem: moving away from its model, and expanding to include booking up to seven days in advance.
In a new FAQ section leaked onto Scribd, which seems to have been written for the benefit of the hotels who will be placing their inventory on the app, HotelTonight frames this new model it as a way for hotels to sell even more of their rooms on the platform.
"We’re really excited about expanding our booking window to help you achieve a Perfect Sellout! With this change we’ve kept the same HT functionality you know and love, but have given you the tools to sell even more rooms," it says on the document.
"HotelTonight will now do even more to help you sell out your property and maximize ADR by helping you pace your bookings all week – while still managing rates on your own terms. We’re really excited to encourage even more people to plan less and live more – and to bring in many more new customers to your property!"
In factt, in a leaked e-mail obtained by TechCrunch, which first reported this news on Wednesday, the company suggests that it was the hotels that requested the expanded time frame in the first place.
"Hope all is well! There are some very exciting changes coming from HotelTonight. We’ve heard loud and clear from our partners that you want more opportunities to sell rooms on HT, and that sometimes waiting until day-of to sell rooms is a less-than-ideal strategy to get to a sellout every night," the e-mail says.
"I’m excited to announce that on September 30, HT is expanding the booking window to 7 days in order to allow hotel partners to sell more rooms and to sell them earlier."
The company requested that the hotels "keep this under wraps" until the end of the month, which someone obviously did not do.
This is not the first time that HotelTonight has expanded beyond its same-day model; in April of this year itintroduced a Look Ahead feature to users to see rates, savings and availability of hotels in the area where they are going to be seven days before they will get there.
The feature was "consistent with what we've done in the past," HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank told me at the time, but now the addition of booking beyond the same-day seems like a fundamental break in HotelTonight's core functionality. It's even right there in the company's name!
Perhaps this was inevitable, though, as HotelTonight’s model has proven so successful that it has spawned a number of clones, including Hot Hotels in Spain, JustBook in Germany and Madrid-based last-minute hotel booking app Blink which was acquired by Groupon last September.
Founded in 2011, HotelTonight has raised more than $80 million from Battery Ventures, US Venture Partners, Accel Partners, First Round Capital, and others. Most recently, the company raised a $45 million Series D round in September. The company has partnered with over 10,000 hotels in 17 countries and 250 destinations. To date, the app has been downloaded over nine million times.
VatorNews has reached out to HotelTonight for confirmation and comment on these leaked documents. We will update the story if we learn more.
Here is the full leaked FAQ section:
(Image source: hoteltonight.com)
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HotelTonight is the ultimate way to book a same-day hotel stay via your mobile device.
Founded in 2010, HotelTonight is the first hotel booking application that is made for mobile from the ground up. HotelTonight offers some of the best pricing for last minute hotel deals in three categories: hip, elegant and basic. Perfect for business travelers, leisure travelers and locals alike.