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There are a lot of caveats to what Hipmunk means by “Tonight Only” deals.
While HotelTonight, a leader in the space, curates its offerings, perhaps displaying four to six hotels in a city, or section of a city, at a time, Hipmunk is presenting the most Tonight Only deals that it can find, collecting them from online travel agencies, other metasearch sites, hotels, and even HomeAway for vacation rentals and Airbnb for apartments, houseboats and yurts.
“We’re taking them from everywhere we can,” says Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein.
In this way, Hipmunk is going for comprehensiveness, and it also doesn’t have to get bogged down in negotiating with hotels over rates.
Hipmunk characterizes its Tonight Only deals as “mobile exclusives,” but they are not exclusive to Hipmunk. In other words, hotels sometimes provide mobile-only rates to distributors, and Hipmunk will be grabbing these from its partners and showing them.
These hotel offerings aren’t even necessarily always for same-day bookings, Goldstein explains. Sometimes, when Hipmunk finds especially good, everyday hotel rates, perhaps in a second- or -third-tier city, Hipmunk will display them anyway among the so-called tonight-only deals because they add value, he says.
Hipmunk claims its Tonight Only rates provide discounts of up to 60% off standard rates.
These rates debuted on Hipmunk’s Android app yesterday and its iPhone app today.
There are two ways that users can find the rates. If they do a standard hotel search in the Hipmunk apps, they will see Tonight Only deals labeled among the results.
There is also a shortcut on the apps’ homescreens for people who know from the start that they are looking for same-day bookings.
“We will show as many deals as we’ve got,” Goldstein says.
There is an option to book the rooms through Hipmunk “most of the time,” Goldstein says, or users can book the rooms on the supplier sites.
About half of Hipmunk’s current mobile users make same-night bookings, and Goldstein doesn’t envision that changing overnight. “I can see it going up a little bit,” he says.
In addition to Hipmunk’s desire to be comprehensive, its approach to Tonight Only deals is a bid to make Hipmunk’s apps the leading way to find hotel deals.
Goldstein argues that consumers don’t want to navigate from one curated app to another, seeking out deals, but want to find them all in one place.
Hipmunk wants to be that place.
Says Goldstein: “It is my belief that over time, consumers aren’t going to want multiple, different travel apps.”