“What if booking last minute is rewarding?” This is the question that energises In2nite‘s business operations, where the team of 20 employees have only 18 hours to sell excess hotel rooms to more spontaneous travellers.
Customers have to work in broad strokes as they would not always be able to choose the hotel that they prefer, but are more or less guaranteed a place to spend the night nearby.
In2Nite recently raised US$2.8 million from IDG Ventures and other undisclosed strategic investors to expand throughout Asia. Its Vietnam venture partner Frederic de Bure will join In2Nite’s board.
HotelQuickly, one of In2Nite’s key competitors, in comparison raised US$1.16 million in Series A funding in September 2013 from Boon Hwee Koh, the former Chairman of Singtel and Singapore Airlines.
In an exclusive conversation with e27, Dr Arne Dettki, the Founder of the business, said he saw a clear opportunity for such a service in the Asian region. He further added that the tendency to use mobile devices to conduct transactions is prominent mainly due the decreasing cost of tablets and phones as compared to desktops or personal computers.
So, how does In2Nite make last minute bookings rewarding? It allows travellers to book their rooms 70 per cent off published rates! It is easy to select, book and pay for your room from your smartphone or tablet. Additionally, there is the assurance that there will always be a room available.
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Despite being nominated as one of the top new applications on the iTunes app store, The Occasional Traveller, a blogger, reported a few concerns with the application. Namely, each booking is only for one room, the understanding being that it’s usually for two people. If travellers are in a group, this may pose a problem. Also, the room users are booking for isn’t apparent up front, and only assigned at the check-in counter.
In response to this feedback, Dr Dettki said that the consumer psychology of travellers is changing, and that they are more spontaneous with travel. He cites the reasons being that travel is becoming much cheaper than before and that flying is no longer a barrier. For example, to travel and stay the night in Bali today would possibly be less expensive than staying in Singapore.
Cut out the middleman
Dr Dettki also stated that In2Nite has a close direct relationship with the hotels that it partners with. In a day, there could be up to 300 hotels with more than 1000 rooms available. In2Nite helps these suppliers reduce the profits forgone through excess inventory by bringing in last minute travellers who simply want a place to stay for the night.
Traditionally, online travel agencies like Expedia would act as middlemen between hotels and customers. However, startups like In2Nite and HotelQuickly disrupt this by linking customers directly to hotels, which have an estimated 40 per cent of their inventory unfulfilled every night.
In2Nite is currently available in six countries, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Dr Dettki says that he will use the newly acquired funds to continue expanding across Asia to 15 countries that are key travel destinations.