Today kicks off Golden Week in mainland China, a week-long national holiday where tourists tend to flood Hong Kong in droves.
The number of mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong fell almost 10 per cent in July, according to data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which may bring distress for industries that rely on tourists, notably hotels.
However, HotelQuickly, a last-minute hotel booking app company, isn’t relying on this demographic as a customer base.
“We find that actually the majority of the bookings on our app is done by people who live in Hong Kong, reserving a room for either visiting friends, family, or colleagues,” says Raphael Cohen, Co-founder, HotelQuickly.
Cohen Co-founded HotelQuickly along with Tomas Labaoutka, Christian Mischler, Michal Juhas and Mario Peng.
He adds that while the majority of hotels in Hong Kong do depend on mainland Chinese flow, HotelQuickly is focussing on another strategy: playing to its own crowd in Hong Kong.
Staycation in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, users can choose from over 214 hotels on the app (more than 10,000 in Asia Pacific), which are discounted up to 60 per cent. The top 10 deals in each city or area are curated — hotels must be three to five stars — and each deal selected is guaranteed to be the cheapest price point.
Users booking Hong Kong hotels through the app come from Macau, Thailand and Singapore, and not just mainland China.
Within Hong Kong, HotelQuickly is also marketing the idea of a staycation.
“Staycations in Singapore are a really big thing,” says Cohen.
He predicts Hong Kong, which boasts a similar demographic, will have the same trajectory.
Singapore was the third most-popular destination for Singaporeans in June for various reasons, including a preference to take a shorter and affordable vacation away from home, and a high number of Millennials living at home.
But the startup could face other challenges, shifts in tourist activity aside.
Cohen on competition
HotelTonight, HotelQuickly’s predecessor, recently launched in Europe and South America. Meanwhile, online booking websites like Agoda and Booking.com are heavily pushing on mobile platforms, targeting a similar demographic.
As for travel startup giant Airbnb, Cohen says he doesn’t see it as much of a competitor within Southeast Asia.
“Actually when I leave Hong Kong to travel for work, I rent out my place on Airbnb. And then I book my hotel for my destination on HotelQuickly,” he shares, laughing.
Cohen tells e27 that HotelQuickly is planning on rolling out many changes in the weeks to come.
“We want people to be able to book something last minute, in a minute. We want to use data to guess what hotel you would stay at. Not like when you open Agoda and see 10 hotels that are popular for the masses,” he says.
As for the current best-performing market, Cohen points to Indonesia: “A lot of domestic-travelling is done within Indonesia, and it attracts a lot of people within Southeast Asia too,” he concludes.
For deals and partnerships, HotelQuickly works with other startups such as GrabTaxi in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and banks such as DBS.