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HotelTonight CEO Says Travel Industry Always Ripe for A Shakeup

Skift Take

If HotelTonight is really attracting incremental demand — travelers who otherwise would have gone home or slept on the street for the night — then that’s testament to the staying power of same-day hotel apps — and disposable income.

— Dennis Schaal

With Travelocity becoming best friends with Expedia, and travelers booking apartment rentals and taxi rides on their smartphones, does the travel industry need a little more disruption?

Sam Shank, the CEO of HotelTonight, the mobile-only same-day hotel-booking app (three taps, eight seconds after you register), thinks a little more shaking up is required.

“I think it always does (need shaking up),” Shank told Press: Here on NBC . “This is an enormous market. Hotels are the largest category of e-commerce. They are the most profitable category of e-commerce. And it always needs innovation so people can get the best deal or the best value, or the most convenient access to hotel inventory.

“And the opportunity we saw was in mobile,” Shank adds. “In mobile there needs to be a new way to book a hotel and we jumped on it.”

Shank claims three-year-old HotelTonight is growing 300% year over year, and that surveys show that half its demand comes from travelers who otherwise wouldn’t have booked a hotel that night.

“We are replacing the couch, we are replacing the drive home,” Shank says. “We are replacing the ‘Can I crash at a friend’s place.'”

Of course, large companies like Priceline, its affiliate, and startups in Europe are also looking to replace HotelTonight. 

Other tidbits from the interview include:

  • HotelTonight receives roughly a 20% commission from participating hotels, and
  • Although the initial audience was travelers 25-35 years old, the user base has become more of a mainstream audience.

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