A disproportionate amount of life’s activities are increasingly locked-in at the last minute, especially hotel bookings for agile workers and holiday-makers after bargain accommodation. As a mobile travel app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, HotelTonight offers steep discounts off listed hotel rates due to the last minute nature of the bookings made up to seven days in advance throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Since its launch in 2010, it has been downloaded by more than 15 million users. We talk with The Office Space resident, Stefan Cordiner, Regional Director, South Pacific for HotelTonight, to discover why the app is such a game changer for travel and offer you a $30 discount on your next hotel booking (details below). Desktop website last-minute hotel bookings launched circa 1997, with booking.com, lastminute.com, wotif.com and hotelscombined.com (to mention but a few) being the go-to travel deal websites for Australian travellers in the ensuing years. Yet mobile bookings are rapidly overtaking them. Why is this? I believe that as consumers become accustomed to a more on-demand lifestyle, where everything is available in the palm of their hands, traditional services are being replaced with those that cater more directly to their lifestyle. I personally don’t want to spend hours on a website looking for accommodation that I have to book weeks in advance. I’d much rather have complete flexibility with my schedule to the point where I am able book a room a few hours before I need it from a short-list of vetted hotels, knowing that I’m getting the best rate available. That’s what HotelTonight offers. So what is it about HotelTonight’s booking tools that offers an even better user experience with even more rewarding discounts? By specialising in last minute mobile-only bookings, we take the opposite approach to most hotel booking channels, allowing hotels to try to move their inventory themselves. For last minute vacancies they can come to us to move them through a channel which doesn’t compete with their website. As none of the HotelTonight rates show up on the web, this means that they are happy to provide us with better rates on this distressed inventory, meaning we’re able to offer better rates to bookers. When did the Sydney office for HotelTonight launch and what is your role within the company? The Australian operation launched in mid 2015 and now offers great rates from 300+ leading hotels in 14 destinations across Australia and New Zealand. My role was to lead the launch in the region which included building a local team, running the launch campaigns, and implementing a sustainable growth plan and path to profitability. The app is certainly easy to navigate, offering user-friends search categories within cities (from Basic through to Hip and Luxe hotels), a location map and a convenient estimation of travel time by car to locations. With a range of hotel images and a synopsis of amenities together with an entry level price for the night selected, it’s comprehensive yet succinct. What’s the company’s selection process in terms of vetting the hotels it features? We only work with the top 20% of rated properties in a market and utilise a three stage process for vetting: publicly available reviews, in-person site visits and then our own user’s reviews post-stay. If a property falls below a certain rating, they will no longer be displayed so hotels are incentivised to offer upgrades and other perks. What are some unique features the HotelTonight app? One of the coolest features is the GeoRates. Hotels can set special rates to target people based on their location as they know these people tend to be more likely to book. Generally, this is within a certain proximity to the hotel, or at airports. On that note, you can get some of the best rates at airports. Hotels can also set multi-night discounts in a bid to lure you to stay a second night. If 2 or more nights are an option, you can often get even better rates so it’s worth trying multi-night stays first. One more inside tip is to book after 6pm on the day. A lot of hotels start dropping their rates then. HT Perks, your version of a hotel loyalty program that launched this year, is a genius idea. Given that all major hotel brands now won’t give people points if they book through a third-party platform, you’ve launched your own reward system. Best of all bookers don’t have to acquire countless points to start making savings. How does it work? Yes, it’s a pretty cool program. It works by allowing hotels to set better rates that are only available to our more active bookers. We have 3 levels that you can unlock and you can start experiencing the benefits with as little as 3 bookings. What other value adds does your app include? I personally am a huge fan of our customer support team. They’re super responsive which is important in our busy lives. I also rate the very personal approach we take with our bookers. All our senior management team engage regularly with bookers and personally take responsibility to resolve issues. We like to ensure that every booker has a personalised experience with us. Any plans to expand into the Asian market in the near future? Yes, this is the last region remaining for us and is definitely on our radar. Lastly, where is the future of travel booking headed? Are we going to become even more spontaneous? We believe so. As people become more used to on-demand lifestyles, and more companies cater for this, consumers will further embrace spontaneity and all the benefits and savings that are associated with this. This goes hand-in-hand with our tag line: Plan Less. Live More. Use the code STEFAN for an extra $30 off your first booking! www.hoteltonight.com
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