Skift Take

We haven't reached the reality of travel hacks such as hourly hotel room rates becoming pervasive. But once booking sites understand this is how to win more business travel and hotels learn that they can fill more rooms this way that would otherwise go unbooked, travel hacking won't be a hack anymore--it will have business plans and more sophistication.

seedlingsThis week we turn to five startups that represent an ongoing trend of travelers searching for hidden deals, hotel rooms to rent for a few hours, or putting their rewards points or miles to full use.

Hacking travel isn’t a novelty, but travelers are definitely more polished in their approaches than years past. In many ways, travel hacking is the lifeblood of travel startups as they believe they’re bringing an issue to the fore that travelers struggle with or overcome through a lot of time and research.

These companies present ideas that in some cases have moved beyond hacks into the mainstream, accepted as legitimate by some travel brands and promoted as such, while others are models we hope will become more common in the near future.

>>Hotels By Day lets travelers book hotels for several hours at a time. It focuses on both leisure and business markets and lets travelers book now and pay later.

SkiftTake: It’s nice to see a travel startup acknowledging the ‘daycation’ market, those who take short day trips within driving distance of their home and maybe stay overnight for one night. This is the year of the American traveler with an improving economy but Americans still don’t take much vacation time. Promoting easy day trips and making them seem accessible will help get Americans out of their stuffy offices this year.

>>By Hours lets travelers book hotel stays by the hour. Rooms can be booked in intervals of three, six or 12 hours and guests choose their check-in and check-out times.

SkiftTake: Ideal for business travelers, but even more ideal for long airport layovers. By Hours is already in London Gatwick, Paris de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt Airports, for example.

>>AwardAce helps travelers look up redemption rates for miles on several global airlines. It also explains which credit card programs transfer to which frequent flyer programs.

SkiftTake: The airline industry, with the three legacy U.S. carriers as prime examples, has moved towards measuring loyalty in dollars spent rather than miles flown. That makes better sense to the traveler and makes them feel more rewarded. Though AwardAce’s solution is still useful, travelers live their lives in dollars and appreciate communicating loyalty redemption that way.

>>Findbed lets travelers request a nightly room rate for hotel stays and receive an emailed list of hotels that match that rate, essentially acting as a quasi travel agency.

SkiftTake: It seems impractical for a startup with this kind of idea to compete with existing online travel agencies or travel agents. Still, many travelers are frustrated by searching for the best deal across dozens of booking sites. An emailed list feels like the best deals are in your inbox, provided Findbed can keep up with complex pricing algorithms.

>>SimpliFly lets travelers browse and buy airport retail products anytime and anywhere in the terminal on their mobile devices. It also offers exclusive and tailored deals and is backed by Google Ventures.

SkiftTake: Many travelers perceive retail items sold in airports to be more expensive than if they bought them in stores outside the airport. Startups wanting to enter airport retail environments really need to double down on stressing exclusive deals and promoting affordability for budget travelers and refined offerings for luxury travelers.

For all of our SkiftSeedlings coverage, check out our archives here.

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