Travel Apps Focus on Booking Hotel Rooms in a Snap

In the wide world of travel, it appears hotel reservations is the low-hanging fruit of mobile applications.

In the past few weeks, Expedia has rolled out a hotel reservation application that will be the cornerstone of a much broader push into mobile. Kayak also announced it will shift its business to take hotel reservations directly, in a move toward creating a better mobile experience. Priceline’s Booking.com property also has applications, and individual hotel chains like Best Western have released apps of their own.

And then there’s HotelTonight.

The San Francisco-based company has an iPhone application that allows you to book last-second hotel rooms the day you are looking–for reduced prices.

HotelTonight is announcing today that it will allow users to book up to five nights at a time. It is now also available in Seattle and Miami in addition to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Boston. Dallas, Philadelphia and Atlanta will launch soon.

The one-off single-purpose applications for now appear to be standard. To be sure, they allow for easy-to-use streamlined experiences, but it’s unclear whether consumers will demand a one-stop experience over time as companies get better at adding sophistication without complexity.

So far, HotelTonight has clocked 250,000 downloads in its first two months, and is encouraging more downloads by giving away a $25 credit good toward the first booking after registering.

The company was founded by Sam Shank, who is CEO. Shank, who is bankrolling the operation while they try to raise a round of capital, previously founded and was CEO of DealBase.com and CEO of TravelPost.com, which was acquired by Kayak.

HotelTonight allows people to book a room as late as 2 a.m., which is often hours later than the big aggregated sites. The company also sends its own photographers to take mobile-optimized photos, and has writers produce descriptions that include relevant information for last-minute bookers.


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald