The summer travel rush has been good to HotelTonight, the last-minute hotel booking service: the site today announced that it has now had 3 million downloads of is mobile app, and it is marking the occasion by continuing its scaling efforts in the U.S. and UK — where it spearheaded its international push in June, fuelled by its latest $23 million investment.
The company is now covering hotel bookings in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, as well as St. Louis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Nashville. Manchester and Salt Lake City/Park City are coming in September, taking the total number of cities covered by Hotel Tonight up to over 50, with more “aggressive” expansion planned in the months ahead.
HotelTonight is a standout among other hotel booking services, in that its service is only available by mobile — via Android and iOS apps — taking advantage of the idea that it is most likely to be used on the go rather than by organized people who might use their computers to plan where and when they might need a hotel room well in advance.
That service, for the uninitiated, offers three same-day hotel deals at noon local time for a city of your choice. Discounts can be for as much as 70%. You book the hotel within the app with a few swipes.
So far, CEO Sam Shank tells me that its international push has been very positive. Riding the Olympics and summer travel wave, since launching in London the service has seen usage grow 100% in the city. He says that for competitive reasons the company is not releasing hard figures on usage. “But they are well above our expectations,” he tells me.
So what about the future?
In addition to picking up more consumer users, the company is picking up more hotels to fill out its inventory. The lastest round includes hipster havens Ace Hotel & Swim Club (Palm Springs), the Driskill Hotel (Austin) and The Hoxton (London), among several others. Longer term, the service will not just be about aiming at this part of the market. “We want to provide a service that works for you no matter what you are looking for,” says Shank. “You’ll see us expand inventory accordingly.”
But while a chief aim of the site is ubiquity, that is not yet translating in certain areas: so, for example, there is no news on HotelTonight moving to WindowsPhone or BlackBerry or a web app. Shank says the company saw “tremendous requests” for an Android app after it first launched on iPhone, but that hasn’t been repeated so far with other platforms.
Nor will HotelTonight evolve very soon into “AirbnbTonight” or “CampTonight” — that is, offer non-hotel-based accommodation to its users. “We would never rule anything out, but we are called HotelTonight for a reason,” he says. For now the company is staying away from and API of its service — although you can see how something like this could be very useful planted in other apps such as those for last-minute flights or mapping and navigation applications that you would use in a car. The site is focused on “building our own following in our own apps first,” Shank says.
One area where HotelTonight is more likely to evolve is in how it helps people source and then broadcast their hotel plans. Social media bells and whistles are not something that HotelTonight is offering right now, “but we should talk more on that in the future,” is all Shank would say.