There’s a new travel site launching that’s focused on bringing real-time bidding to the boutique hotel market. The site, called Stayful, was founded by travel industry veterans from Expedia and Hotels.com and has raised $2.4 million in seed funding to attack the market.
The idea behind Stayful is to let users negotiate room rates for unsold inventory at independent or boutique hotels. So it’s created a platform that does just that, providing a listing of available hotels and suggested bids, and then letting the consumer do the work of bidding.
To enable this, Stayful is working with various independent or boutique hotels, and scanning available spots to try to determine inventory. Once it’s done that, it algorithmically determines the fair market price of each room and then provides that as the suggested bid price. Users don’t have to take that advice, and hey, they can put in a lowball offer.
Of course, the hotel doesn’t have to accept that bid. It can counter with a price of its own, which the user can accept. Or it can shoot down the bid altogether. But once a bid is finally accepted, the traveler gets a discounted rate, the hotels book rooms that would have otherwise stayed empty, and everyone ends up happy. (Yay!)
For hotels that aren’t already part of the system, users can submit requests or bids and try to get them on board. It’s, like, one way for Stayful to show that there’s interest in them on the platform.
So anyway, why would a traveler want to go through the trouble of bidding on a place when she could just go to a discount travel site or Hotel Tonight or whatever? Because Stayful provides more transparency to travelers who want to stay at a certain type of hotel. Also, it kind of makes them feel awesome to name a price and have a hotel bend to their will.
And for hotels? Well they get another way to fill rooms, while also maintaining control over their price. They also significantly lower the cost of obtaining new customers.
Stayful was founded by travel industry veterans Cheryl Rosner and Shariq Minhas. Rosner is CEO, after previously serving as president of Expedia Corporate Travel and Hotels.com, while Minhas led engineering at Jigsaw, and worked for travel sites Expedia and Hotwire. The company has raised $2.4 million in seed funding led by Canaan Partners, and counts Joie de Vivre founder Chip Conley and Room 77 CEO Drew Patterson as advisors.