The most expensive room in a hotel, at least for its owner, is an empty one—which is why last-minute bookings can be such a great deal. Travel apps such as Kayak, Hotels Now, Hotel Tonight, and Blink all help travelers strike bargains by locating and booking hotels just hours before check-in. On Thursday, flight and hotel booking app Hipmunk will join the crowded hotel booking field with a new feature called "Tonight Only."
As with all Hipmunk features, says CEO Adam Goldstein, Tonight Only's key differentiator is context. "The way that we present information is different than our competitors," he says. "Nobody else pulls in your calendar, so you can see which flights fit in your schedule and which hotels are near your meetings. Nobody else could. Because the way they present information isn’t visually sort of capable enough of putting this all in one place."
Features from Hipmunk's flight and hotel searches, in other words, work equally as well when transferred to last-minute deals. The Tonight Only calendar feature that Goldstein mentioned, for instance, is something Hipmunk added to its flight and hotel booking products last year. Its nifty heat map feature—which helps pinpoint neighborhoods that meet criteria such as price, sights, shopping, and nightlife—is lifted from its hotel search. And a version of the "ecstasy" ranking that Tonight Only will use to sort options based on a combination of price, reviews, and amenities has been part of Hipmunk from the beginning (it was originally called "agony").
Hipmunk has essentially designed a framework it can apply to a number of different travel decisions. Last-minute booking is just its latest extension. "Over time, we intend to tackle all the verticals of the travel industry," Goldstein says.