HotelTonight is moving beyond the same-day hotel bookings that it’s known for.
TechCrunch’s Jordan Crook reported earlier this week that this move was in the works, but HotelTonight is confirming the news, and the updated apps offering hotel booking up to seven days in advance are scheduled to go live … now.
Co-founder and CEO Sam Shank told me that HotelTonight is expanding its model “from a position of strength,” with the existing business
already profitable on-track to be profitable and growing 100 percent year-over-year. At the same time, he said this is a natural way “to bring the HotelTonight approach to hotel booking to more people and more times.”
For what it’s worth, I do think HotelTonight is one of the best (and most mobile-friendly) ways to book hotels, and I’d probably use it more often if I wasn’t worried about waiting until the day-of to make the reservation. (The company already took one step to alleviate this concern by adding projected pricing.)
But why seven days, and not, say, two weeks? Or a month? Shank described one week as “the Goldlilocks of bookings windows.” After all, he suggested that “last minute” can mean different things to different people, and booking a weekend getaway on Tuesday or Wednesday can still feel pretty spontaneous. At the same time, when you’re a week out, you start to have more information, like the weather forecast, that can help with trip-planning.
Similarly, from a hotel’s perspective, when it’s a week ahead of time they usually have a decent sense of whether they’re going to fill up, or if it makes sense to offer discounted rooms through a service like HotelTonight. (As the week goes on, they might add or take rooms off the service.)
Other new features include the aforementioned weather forecast, and hotel “playlists” built around certain themes, like hotels that offer great beach getaways for an upcoming weekend or places to stay if you want to watch the big football game.
Shank added that as the company’s vision is “moving from this niche of a very compressed period of time to a broader period of time,” it should “shift more of the bookings from the legacy [online travel agencies].” Nonetheless, he said seven days covers the vast majority of mobile hotel booking, and there’s “so much more to do during that booking window,” so there are no plans to expand to an even longer window.