Book a hotel room in a jiffy
LAST-MINUTE travel just got a whole lot more timely - and fun - with HotelQuickly, an app that allows travellers to book a hotel room (three-star and up) on the spot, without having to overpay on walk-in rates, and even create a vacation in under a minute.
Launched in March last year, the Hong Kong-based start-up with offices in Singapore, Thailand and Australia now operates in more than 12 countries in Asia. It has also raised some HK$9 million (S$1.5 million) in seed funding in a round led by former SingTel and Singapore Airlines chairman Koh Boon Hwee.
Just last week, it rolled out a revamped version of its app, introducing a tomorrow-booking feature that allows users to book a hotel room one day ahead of checking in. Previously, rooms were available only for same-day bookings.
The new app also allows the use of price filters, third-party reviews and even weather forecasts, creating a versatile and personalised tool for those travelling to Asia, said Christian Mischler, co-founder and chief operating officer.
He added that deals on HotelQuickly are about 28 per cent lower than the lowest online rates, which are already 45 per cent lower than walk-in rates.
"Hence, for the amount you pay at the front desk of a three-star hotel, you can book a five-star hotel via HotelQuickly," he said. "And booking a room is literally a matter of seconds."
The app shows an average of 20 hotel choices in a city per day, so users need not pull out their computers and spend hours combing through numerous deals online.
HotelQuickly then takes a commission from every booking made through the app. It maintains that hotels are not missing out on revenue by giving its users a discount on room rates.
"Instead, hotels get to increase same-day occupancy, sell rooms that would otherwise go unsold for the night, and improve their yield at the eleventh hour. Through selling Wi-Fi, breakfast, or items from the minibar, they can still make a profit," claimed Mr Mischler.
HotelQuickly's model also complements tour operators, online travel agents and even the hotels' own websites, as it targets a non-competing, niche market of travellers who need a room at the last minute but are unable to do so on traditional channels.
From April this year, users who book a hotel room in Singapore via HotelQuickly get to enjoy free access to a serviced workspace at any of Compass Offices' co-sharing spaces - mostly located in the Central Business District - during their stay.
"Singapore is a travel and business hub in Asia. HotelQuickly has members who travel to Singapore on a weekly basis and stay for one or two nights, and who always use the app to book their accommodation. Free Wi-Fi at Changi Airport enables them to do this conveniently upon arrival," said Mr Mischler.
Singaporeans are also more tech-savvy than people in the rest of the region, and HotelQuickly saw quick adoption of the app here right after it was launched.
He said: "They would use the app to book staycations over the weekends, or spontaneous getaways to Bintan, Bali, Batam or Langkawi."
HotelQuickly, inspired by San Francisco-based Hotel Tonight, the world's first last-minute mobile hotel-booking platform for the United States and Europe, is the first such platform in Asia.
Compared with Hotel Tonight's nine million users since its 2011 launch, HotelQuickly now has some 300,000 users in over a year.
THE BUSINESS TIMES