Startup pitch: Nightly helps users switch hotels to bring better value to stays

The idea of mix and match flights has been around for some time and highlighted over the years as one of the ways to access the cheapest options.

So, why not do the same for hotels? How often do potential guests have to move on to a different property because their hotel of choice isn’t available for the entire stay.

Step forward Nightly which enables travellers to switch hotels in the middle of a stay which enables them to stay where they wanted for some of a trip but can also mean better value.

Here’s a clip:

What problem does your business solve?

Nightly.travel is a unique online platform where you can book the very best value hotel stays, making hotels more affordable.

Hotels can be expensive and travellers often have to compromise on quality or location in order to meet their budget. This is partially what fuelled the rise of Airbnb and the move to homestays – travellers were no longer getting value for money in hotels.

At Nightly.travel we offer a novel solution: combine two hotels which are cheaper than staying in one hotel. You can think of it as connecting flights but for hotels. Instead of changing planes on the way to or from your destination, we offer you options to switch hotel part way through your trip. You know which hotels are included in your package and what day you’ll be moving, when you book.

The trade-offs are worthwhile: a little inconvenience for a remarkable saving. We regularly see savings of 30-50% and sometimes as much as 70% in busy city destinations.

Simply said; switch once and save big.

It works for two main reasons:

1) Most hotels dynamically price room nights. You’re usually shown an average price per night. If you dig a little further and look at the breakdown by night you’ll often see big variations, depending on how busy the hotel is on each individual night. We move you out of a hotel where the price has spiked, making it overpriced, and into a hotel where the price has dropped, making it a bargain.

2) Partially available hotels are not offered to travellers under the regular one hotel model. For us, any hotel with available nights is a valid option and sometimes there’s unbeatable value to be had in combining two hotels which are not available for all your stay. Partially available is an option with us.

At Nightly, we search for options where you can switch and save, taking the best value nights from two hotels and combining them in a single trip. We also offer regular single-hotel stays empowering the traveller to choose whether switching is right for their trip.

Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?

We’re two founders: lead co-founder Santiago Navarro who’s vision it was to build the platform and his former tech co-founder Jon Hannah who helped bring this vision to life.

We both saved money for years by manually figuring out good hotel switches. When we met at a travel tech hackathon in 2015 and discovered each other’s passion for the idea, we decided to automate the process and start Nightly.

Santiago, as CEO, leads overall management and business development. Jon formerly headed up product and now tech is handled by a consultant, interim CTO.

Santiago is supported by a marketing intern Elliott and a number of external freelancers who are specialists in specific channels or activities.

Funding arrangements?

To date we’re self-funded. Santiago is currently in the process of raising a seed round of investment.

Revenue model?

We act as the merchant and process each booking, so our margin is added on top of our suppliers’ net pricing. In this sense, we’re a very similar business model to the major hotel booking OTAs.

Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?

There is nothing to pay for our solution. It’s a free service that can save travellers lots of money – you lose nothing by trying and if a switch works wonders for your trip then you only stand to benefit.

Price is important for all travellers.

According to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer 2016, it’s the leading factor when booking accommodation. Since the cost of accommodation is such a large part of most trip budgets, we believe travellers will jump at the opportunity to make such meaningful savings.

Finally, the most painful experience is staying in a grotty hotel or in an undesirable location because anything else is too expensive. By unlocking the best value hotel stays, we believe we avoid painful stays and make travel happier.

External validation? (Examples: The incubators/accelerators you have been accepted to, the mentors who are advising you, the number of customers you’ve signed, the marketing partner deals you’ve made, the skills/connections of your founders, etc.)

Our business concept was launched by Santiago at a traveltech hackathon in 2015, using the project name HotelSplitter, and was awarded a prize.

Hotel switching is nothing new. There’s plenty of evidence of it online. One just needs to Google the terms “split stay” or “hotel hopping” to see how often travellers will move between hotels to reap some sort of benefit or reward.

What we do at Nightly is automate the process, ensuring a traveller sees the best options in a matter of seconds at the simple click of a button.

Furthermore, from an early stage we’ve received amazing support from some key players in the industry including Hotelbeds, TrustYou and Leonardo as part of their Travel Technology Start-ups program.

We’ve also recently completed Y Combinator’s Startup School Founder Track.

Finally, the product is live at www.nightly.travel, we have traffic to the site and bookings. We’re now ready to take hotel switching mainstream.

Tnooz view:

Interesting idea and it would be great to know what the average savings actually are. Also, is this really a pain point? Many travellers might find it more painful to switch hotels a couple of days into a stay.

However, for the budget conscious out there, it’s a great concept.

What’s encouraging is that it grew out of a hackathon and the team have managed to build a business out of it.

The usual challenges apply such as spreading the word and building scale but you’ve also got to ask whether this is a business or just smart functionality.

Those with good memories will recall how the launch of HotelTonight was followed by the unveiling of similar technology by Priceline and Expedia.

If this idea catches on, the OTA giants will be on to it quickly.

Already there are other similar startups in the space, such as Splitty, so there might just be something in this.

Image from Bill Anastas via Unsplash

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is managing editor for Tnooz. For the past decade years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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