If you are planning a last-minute trip this weekend, you’re not alone. Half of all hotel bookings in the U.S. are made three days or less before arrival.
Tapping into those travelers is the mobile booking app Hotel Tonight. It helps people find deals on rooms the day of or up to a week in advance. Launched in 2011, the app has 25,000 hotel partners in more than 35 countries.
“We have a really simple pitch for our hotel partners. We say that if you guys have empty rooms available, we can put them on Hotel Tonight, and you can fill rooms and generate incremental revenue,” CEO and co-founder Sam Shank said Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
It’s a win for the traveler, the hotel – and Shank, too. Last year, the company earned $300 million in gross booking volume.
Shank, who grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, said he didn’t travel much while growing up.
“I didn’t go overseas when I was in college, and so I got bit by the travel bug though in my 20s,” Shank said. “Unfortunately I didn’t have money then so I didn’t get to travel a ton. And then I was looking to start a company, and I wanted to combine a personal interest with what I thought was a great business opportunity, and travel was the natural fit.”
Hotel Tonight is Shank’s third travel startup, after two web-based companies, TravelPost and DealBase. With this app, he saw the opportunity in mobile.
“I said, ‘Mobile is going to change everything.’ What’s it going to do for travel?” Shank recalled.
Now he’s convinced last-minute travel is becoming “mainstream.”