Last-minute lodging reservation apps are a dime a dozen these days, and they’re all founded on the same premise: helping people find empty bookings at deeply discounted rates on very short notice. However, thanks to a few new features, HotelTonight might stand out from the pack. Its new Bonus Rate and Rate Drop services aim to provide steeper-than-usual savings.
Of the two, Rate Drop seems tailor made for 11th-hour bookers. Available after 3 p.m. — and not a minute sooner — it shows same-day room offers at participating hotels nearby. For more prescient travelers, Bonus Rate offers rooms for advanced booking (up to seven days ahead) in other locales. Rate Drop is available everywhere starting today, while Bonus Rate will roll out to most regions in stages.
HotelTonight pioneered same-day booking when it debuted five years ago in a few cities. Since then, it’s expanded to 15,000 hotels in 500 destinations and raised more than $80 million plus in a personal investment from Barry Sternlicht, founder of Starwood Capital Group, which owns Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. But HotelTonight’s early success attracted the attention of incumbents and startups alike. Travelocity, Orbitz, and Priceline also offer same-day booking, as do newcomers JustBook and Roomlia.
Historically, the battle’s been for the largest possible savings, but two years ago, there was a paradigm shift when JustBook began offering look-ahead discounts. Roomlia then debuted with seven-day reservation, and HotelTonight changed its business model to align with the trend.
That’s not to say HotelTonight feels threatened. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company continues to see growth, with 55 percent more advance bookings last month than in November. Nonetheless, HotelTonight’s urgent addition of these new features at the very least shows a fear of complacency which, given the cutthroat landscape of same-day booking services, may be imperative to avoid surrendering market share.