VeryLastRoom is looking to disrupt the last-minute hotel booking space with its mobile application combining hotel deals for tonight with a real-time price drop concept.
Each day, between midday and 2am, room prices decrease cent by cent, so the later you book a room, the cheaper it gets.
It just launched on the AppStore and initially offers deals major french cities with plans to expand to other European markets underway.
The concept is the brainchild of co-founders Nicolas Salin and Sebastien Houze, who have worked in mobile and hospitality businesses, but the team has now grown to 10 since launch last August.
The pair began to observe emerging mobile trends in 2009 when they created an iPhone hotel booking app which reached 150,ooo downloads. They then went on to win the Startup weekend Marseille with a B2B project called BookingBrick before being compelled to develop a ’100% mobile’ travel agency.
Self-funded until now but the company is preparing its first funding round to expand to new markets.
VeryLastRoom sees enormous potential for mobile hotel booking in Europe with only 2% of bookings coming via mobile despite a total market size of 1.6 billion currently booked across 26 countries.
The team is aware of the increasing competition in the same-day market with Priceline’s booking.com recently getting in on the act and HotelTonight also unveiled a European service. However, VeryLastRoom believes the market is still young and it’s not too late.
While the mobile app is free to download, hotels will be charged a commission based on the final price paid.
Q&A with co-founder Nicolas Salin
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
We have a deep focus on the product.Â Whether itâ€™s the app for customers or the extranet for hotels, we take care of every detail.
Weâ€™re more like a marketplace than a daily-deal company.Â Every hotel deal is published on our platform not only the best ones.Â We donâ€™t target any specific hotel range. We just take care that the value is good enough.Â We want our customers to have a wide choice of hotel deals per destination.
We offer a very unique pricing concept to provide the right price, at the right moment, at the right customer. We call it ‘Real-time Yield’ management.Â Why an hotel should offer a 50% discount at midday, if it still possible to sell it with only 37% off ? We want to help hotels optimize their pricing while engaged in promotions.
In fact, we aim to disrupt the last minute hotel booking market with strong focus on mobile and innovative pricing technology.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
We’ve designed our service to help :
- Customers – to find a great hotel deal at the very last minute, while on the go.
- Hotel owners – sell their distressed inventory while optimizing their revenues.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
- Build a great product.
- Innovate all the time.
- Work with a lot of great hotels.
- Take care of our customers and partners
- …buy some ads
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
Two ways – make a pivot, use company assets in technology, team, partnerships, to start a new adventure or, take a vacation and think about the next big thing in travel.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
Build two startups simultaneously. You canâ€™t fight all battles at once!
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Maybe ‘social travel guides’… A lot of companies tried to build a kind of wikipedia for travel, which could make a lot of sense, but failed in my opinion.
In the past 12 months, a new generation of startups attracted funding to work on inspiration and social aspects of travel, but till now, Iâ€™m really waiting to see the startup that will succeed at:
- creating enough stickiness for these members
- generating enough content to attract non-members
So, in my opinion, thereâ€™s still a lot of ideas to explore in this area.
The same day hotel booking space is exciting with figures of more than 50% of mobile bookings for same day stays being bandied about.
And, it’s hotting up, especially in Europe with initiatives from booking.com, blinkbooking and HotelTonight in recent weeks.
It’s easy to see a market for young travellers turning up at airports and looking for a cheap stay in town but less evident for more conservative travellers, both business and leisure, with more fixed plans.
However, the concept has two things going for it worth noting – the commission model based on the final price paid works for hotels and should tempt them as well as the fact that the sector is attracting attention from investors.
There is also a big threat in this market from the larger players who have already decided to get in on the game – why would you go to an app with potentially less hotel coverage when you can go to an existing and trusted aggregator?