Last minute hotel booking app HotelTonight is poised to launch what its founder described as the next form of discounting in the hospitality sector.
Sam Shank did not reveal any more details during an address at the Phocuswright conference in Los Angeles last week, but said it was the “biggest innovation since we launched”.
He said delegates would have to wait for a couple of months to find out what it is, but said it was “along the lines” of how the app introduced a new form of discounting when it launched.
Shank told the annual conference that its marketing strategy has been to optimise for the best possible app rating, rather than more traditional forms of online promotion.
He said the firm has spend just £10 million on marketing in its history. HotelTonight was established in 2011 and its app has been downloaded 11 million times.
Shank said the system was built from the ground up not to compete with hotels but to offer them and their customers a simple way of booking their accommodation.
He said the rise of mobile is turning OTAs into travel assistants or companions using data about the traveller to cater for their needs before, during and after their trips.
And he set out a vision of the modern hotel stay, where new-style personal concierges are employed by hotels, as staff are freed up from time consuming bureaucratic roles by automation.
This will mean a much more personalised experience, with the end of face-to-face check-in and even rooms keys as sensors automate these processes.
Smart lifts will automatically take guests to their floor, body sensors will deliver breakfast as guests wake up and integration with Spotify will ensure guests’ favourite music is playing when they arrive.
Google Nest in rooms will set the environment in the room according to the known preference of each guest.
Shanks said: “The real promise of technology and mobile in particular is that it liberates us to and frees us. It automates mundane tasks and allows us to be better humans.”
He conceded a lot of this innovation would require investment from hoteliers and would take time, particularly building the interactions between companies it requires.
He also said there would have to be a shift in customer acceptance of the use of their data, so they accept it is okay to share this with hotels.