Hipmunk jumps into same-day hotel mobile bookings
Deals on the app homescreen
Now, when a user opens Hipmunk’s Flight and Hotel app, the homescreen will feature up to six Tonight Only hotel deals. If the user clicks on one of the deals, they’ll be taken to a list of offers for their location, with that teaser deal at the top of the list.
Echoes of Priceline’s app
Hipmunk, a Y Combinator graduate based in San Francisco, is mimicking a move that Priceline made two years ago in adding “Tonight-Only Deals” as an option in its existing Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator apps.
Bringing metasearch to same-day booking
Yet the new feature differs from dedicated same-day booking app rivals, such as Hotel Tonight, Very Last Room, and Booking.com’s Tonight app. For instance, Hipmunk is not providing a uniquely same-day offering sourced directly from suppliers via an extranet.
It’s instead aggregating these deals from multiple providers, including Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN). Hotels sometimes use those suppliers to quote discounted rates that are available only to users of mobile devices, and sometimes they quote last-minute rates that are available across any channel. Hipmunk’s Tonight Only deals are a mix of the two.
The deals can be viewed in two ways: 1) by clicking a button to see Tonight Only deals or 2) by performing a search that happens to be for the same day.
In either case, the hotel listings you see aren’t necessarily limited to Tonight Only deals. If there happens to be no discounted inventory available, users see hotel offers at standard rates for a full range of 90,000 properties in the US and internationally.
Most dedicated same-day hotel booking apps limit users to seeing hotels that have provided exclusively negotiated, mobile-only rates for their specific location.
Banking on “ecstasy”
The most distinctive part of the product is that it features Tonight Only listings in a default order ranked by “ecstasy” — the company’s signature mix of rate, reviews, and amenities. Listings are also sortable by rate, user reviews (which take into account TripAdvisor reviews), and a user’s preferred hotel chains.
Driven by data
CEO Adam Goldstein told Tnooz by phone that Hipmunk’s same-day offering was an important move for the company.
Our mobile usage accounts for more than a quarter of our overall usage….
The Tonight Only hotels product comes in response to data showing that more than half of hotel searches on Hipmunk’s mobile app were by travelers looking for last-minute accommodations….
Our new Book on Hipmunk feature, available since May, has been performing extremely well….
Customers store their credit card and booking information and have our seamless user experience for completing their booking, though the supplier remains the merchant of record and handles customer service….
Hipmunk is number one in customer satisfaction among travel sites. Customers love us, as is demonstrated by the comments they make in social media and elsewhere.
Doubling down on hotels — and the higher commissions
The move comes only a few days since it re-designed its desktop-browser based hotels search tool to show customers hotels that have sales for the next 48-72 hours, spotlighting exactly how many rooms are left at any moment.
Fare alerts, too
The app update has another new feature — this one is for flight search. Users can sign up to receive fare alerts through a push notification or email for itineraries they’re tracking.
Hipmunk has raised $20 million in investment to date.
It’s not all seriousness at Hipmunk headquarters, though. Earlier this year, the staff took a break to create a Harlem Shake video.
Co-founder Steve Huffman is wearing the Hipmunk mask in the first part of the video, while Goldstein dons the full Hipmunk outfit in the second part.
NB: Check out a guest viewpoint from co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein from March this year: Things I Wish Knew When I Started Hipmunk.
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.