Ever been so seduced by Stuttgart you’ve extended your business trip by an extra day? Or been stranded by an ash-spewing Icelandic volcano? Booking.com’s new last minute app, Booking Now, has you covered…
By enmeshing your behaviour data with GPS, travel titans Booking.com have created a service whereby business travellers could book a room within the next 48 hours (the app is limited to tonight/tomorrow as the short time-span accounts for half of all reservations made with smartphones) from a choice of 714,000 hotels in 220 countries (they’re even in Ulaanbaatar and Spitsbergen – we checked). It’s easy to use, has exhaustive ratings (40 million guest reviews), and for spontaneously minded travellers, it’ll be welcomed like an accidental suite upgrade. So can the app do for hotel-seekers what Uber did for those in need of a pain-free taxi journey?
A subsidiary of the Priceline Group, hotel giant Booking.com began life as a small start-up in Amsterdam in 1996. Today it has over 700,000 properties globally under contract and deals with more than 900,000 reservations every single day. It now accounts for over two thirds of the Priceline Group’s revenue. In launching Booking Now, Booking.com is going head to head with last-minute rivals like HotelTonight which, after it’s founding in 2010, was an early leader in the mobile-centric booking arena and is now worth $80 million.
The premise behind Booking Now was concentrated on making the booking experience as fast and as painless as possible. “Traditionally, you start off searching for a destination. You have a check in and check out date and a number of guests. You get a big list of hotels and you go from there,” says Booking.com product designer Stuart Frisby. “For us, the breakthrough was realising we could switch that around.”
The result is an incredibly simple experience. You enter your name, phone number, and email address, customise with a few details on travel preferences, including price range and amenities, and the app delivers a map of nearby hotels. Each accommodation offering is ranked according to how well it suits your preferences and even comes complete with Booking.com’s extensive library of reviews. What’s more, users who save their card details can book a room with a single tap!
So next time a Nordic volcanic event has you stranded half way across the globe, you can be sure that Booking Now has got your back.