If you’re frequently on the go, then you would know that booking flights and accommodations at the last minute would tend to be the more expensive option. You have fewer choices (seats or rooms) and you would miss out on great deals that deal sites and promos can offer. But last-minute hotel booking service HotelQuickly finds value in offering great deals on eleventh-hour bookings, too. Hotels get to fill up their quotas, and users also find good rates even without having to plan weeks ahead.
Co-founder and COO Christian Mischler told e27 that the app has reached a milestone of 100,000 downloads so far since its launch in March, across the three platforms it is available on — Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10. “We overachieved our targets so far and grow faster than any of our peers in the West, when they launched their product,” Christian says. He credits industry knowledge among the team, including “many ex-Rocket Internet managers, well connected in the region with years of hospitality industry knowledge.”
To date, HotelQuickly has signed over 300 hotels across 10 countries (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia). The app has also been localized to six languages apart from English: Thai, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Chinese.
Christian says growth accelerated after the team did some tweaks. “This is mainly the result of an improved sharing function in the app (we increased the voucher amount, and offer more channels through which friends can be invited to use HotelQuickly). Users can give vouchers to their contacts, and get rewarded for doing so — this has created a good network effect for us.”
Disparity between Android and iOS
HotelQuickly’s usage scenario reflects that of the smartphone ecosystem in general. Christian told e27 that the app has been downloaded on more Android devices, but half of bookings have been made on iOS devices, making the platform more valuable at this point. “The strongest platform at this point across all countries is Android. However, this is only with regard to downloads. With regard to bookings, more than half of our bookings come from iOS users.”
Additionally, there are different trends according to country. “Singapore is (to our own surprise) an Android country for us with 60 percent users on that platform, Taiwan on the other hand is the biggest iOS country for us with 58 percent HotelQuickly users on iPhones.” Meanwhile, the BlackBerry app (for the Z10 and Q10) was only launched less than three weeks ago, so the team is unable to see some trends yet.
Christian highlighted the right formula in using a mobile-first approach. According to Christian, the Asian market is ripe for the picking, but its unique characteristics make the mobile-first approach a more viable one in the region, compared to elsewhere. “[T]he mobile-first approach can work very well in Southeast Asia,” he stresses, citing a rising middle class, increasing number of cheap flights, rising smartphone penetration and better mobile Internet, among others. “[O]ur model hits a sweet spot and the adoption will only accelerate.”
Additionally, there is value in going for a mobile-only approach in this industry. “To be mobile-first (or even mobile-only) is an inherent part of our business model: We target the hyper spontaneous traveler on the go, who has no laptop at hand. According to surveys that we recently conducted amongst our bookers, more than 82 percent of our bookers did not plan on staying at a hotel when they woke up in the morning of that day. So the decision of staying at a hotel was made very late, very spontaneously.”
HotelQuickly might also lose its edge if it launches a desktop-based website. Christian explains that online travel agencies (OTAs) use “rate parity” agreements, stipulating that a certain service provider cannot charge lower than another, in order to avoid price wars. “These agreements do not apply to us, as we have different cancellation policies, do not show room types, are mobile and not online, etc. Our offers are incomparable to the ones of OTAs. With that, we can get better prices than any of the online travel agencies, which obviously is great for the end customer — and a powerful tool for hotels to sell off distressed inventory through a private sales channel.”
Focusing on mobile platforms has been a rewarding experience for HotelQuickly, so far. “[T]his is a great space to be in and probably the reason why we saw such a great deal of positive feedback from both hotels and users.”