Last-minute hotel booking startup HotelTonight just announced that it has landed a personal investment from Barry Sternlicht, founder of Starwood Capital Group and former chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Sternlicht, who has been described as the “king of hotels,” is also joining HotelTonight as a strategic adviser.
“He knows everybody in the hotel industry,” HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank told me, later adding, “When we launched, there was a lot of doubt that we were beneficial to the industry …. Getting the top guy in hotels to back us and to support us, that’s validation that we’re becoming grown up.”
According to Shank, Sternlicht should be able to help HotelTonight improve its hotel experience and also reach broader deals with large chains, which is particularly important for coverage outside of major cities. On that front, HotelTonight is also announcing that it has reached agreements with several chains, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Best Western International, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, and Steigenberger Hotel Group.
“Booking windows are shrinking and customers are going mobile, trends which position HotelTonight perfectly for the future,” Sternlicht said in the release. “But there’s something more that attracted me – it’s that HotelTonight is proving booking by booking that both hotels and distributors can win.”
Shank declined to specify the size of Sternlicht’s investment, except that it was “a significant dollar amount.”
HotelTonight says it has been downloaded more than 9 million times and now works with 10,000 hotels in 250 destinations. The company raised a $45 million funding round last summer.