Loyal readers might recall a story we ran last year about bright young entrepreneur Veronica Nobbs and her mobile app – Get A Room – that offers punters hotel rooms at the cheapest rates when they’re booking at the last minute.
The business has since pivoted and relaunches this week as Stay Today, a mobile-only discounted same-day hotel booking service across Australia and New Zealand.
Get a Room, which is now being retired, was a free iPhone app that offered potential hotel bookers discounted rooms for that day at three hotels in each city.
Stay Today features a unique price-drop engine that reduces room prices throughout the day, and is partnered with more than 60 hotels across Australasia.
Managing director Matthew Mayne, the former CEO of Jasons Travel Media, says Get A Room was a very successful pilot, and Stay Today has built upon its technology.
Nobbs met Mayne while working at Jasons, and is now one of the directors of the company, Travelmob.
Mayne says with a booking time of just 10 seconds, Stay Today is aimed at people who need to quickly book a hotel while on the go, such as business travellers and late night revellers.
"We specifically avoid chains, chains are less amenable to our proposition," Mayne says. "We tend to target indie hotels, but quite large indie hotels ... smaller boutique hotels tend not to be as appropriate for the proposition." Partners include the Rendezvous and Amora hotels in Auckland, and the Bay Plaza and Museum Hotel in Wellington.
Stay Today also includes Facebook Connect for easy signup. Perhaps what's most interesting about the app, though, is a feature it claims 'senses' when a user is in need of its services – ambient marketing.
"Effectively we use location services combined with various business logic triggers to sense when our customer will have most need of the service. That means if you fly into Auckland Airport, we sense that you have been outside of the city and we identify that as a key point in which you may be interested in booking a hotel. We alert you with a notification saying 'welcome to Auckland, are you interested in booking a hotel?' Going forward we will tailor that messaging to provide the best rates for business customers."
For the other key target market, the late night revellers, he says geographic sensors will be alerted when users leave bars late on a Friday or Saturday night, inferring that they may potentially want to get a cheap hotel room rather than pay for a taxi home.
These alerts are general alerts for now, but in the future, Mayne says the app will use its price drop functionality – where rooms get cheaper as the day goes on – to suggest the best rates nearby.
As he puts it, a hotelier's chances of selling a room at 11pm are low, so they're usually happy to offer deeper discounts the later it gets.
"Going forward we will tailor that message further to say this is what we recommend tonight of the deal we have going."
Stay Today also intends to segment its user base further down the track to distinguish between its two key groups of customers, though for now there's no way to clearly demarcate them.
Mayne says Stay Today’s position as the first mobile-only hotel booking company in Australasia gives the company an edge.
“Although hotel websites are slowly moving into mobile, their apps are difficult to use because these companies weren’t built with mobile in mind.” he says. “Stay Today was built from the ground up for mobile. The result is you can book on the go in less than 10 seconds, and for a better price than on the web.”