Booking Now – A New Last Minute Booking Tool
Other than during our travels through Eastern Europe, I haven’t used Booking.com to actually book very many hotel rooms. I wrote before how they have the best hotel child policy information, but other than that their prices seem to be about the same as everyone else.
It seems that the company is now looking to grow by getting into the last minute hotel booking game to compete with Hotel Tonight (my review) and others. Just a few days ago they launched their new app called Booking Now. According to the company the app helps you, “Stay where the night takes you.”
Based on the press release, the company is aiming to bring a more personalized approach to last minute bookings. “Booking Now personalizes real-time search results based on the unique traveler profile created by each first-time user to indicate specific accommodation preferences, such as desired price range and options like parking, breakfast and Wi-Fi. Users are then presented with the most relevant available accommodation suggestions based on their profile and within their defined location.”
I find it interesting that they are touting their review system and personalized information, but make no mention of discounts. One of the most powerful uses of last minute booking tools is being able to save money over the published room rate. As far as I can tell, this app doesn’t allow for that.
To be fair I haven’t used the app and am basing my analysis on the public information Booking.com has released. (I tried to download it on an iPad, but it is iPhone only for now.) It seems to me that this is just a new front-end for their regular site and a way for them to gain more information about their customers.
By getting you to fill out a profile, they are gaining valuable information about you in exchange for being able to match you up with the right properties. I question whether you as a consumer are getting enough in return for giving them this valuable information. Time will tell if rates through the app are the same as on their website and how it will compare to other services.
Currently the app is only available on iOS for the iPhone. Their press release states, “Booking Now will be available for download in the U.S. in Apple’s App Store on January 15, 2015, with a continued global roll out in the following weeks.” No specific mention of other platforms or dates has been made available.
For now, this seems like an underwhelming product, however the interface is clean and perhaps they will roll out more features as the product matures. Personally, I will stick to Hotel Tonight to save money on last minute bookings. What do you think?