Startup co-founder shares insights on success of Hotel Tonight app

Michael Bayle

Head of Mobile, Amadeus IT Group

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Some of the top global innovators gathered in Madrid to connect with companies and investors at this year’s South Summit. I had the opportunity to sit down with one such innovator, Jared Simon, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the on-demand hotel booking app, Hotel Tonight.

startup co founder shares insights on success of hotel

Jared shed a lot of light on the success behind the world’s first mobile-only spontaneous hotel booking app. He told me that one of the key aspects of his companies’ success was the culture they built. From the start, they placed value on working with likeminded people and refused to hire old hats from the travel industry in order promote fresh perspectives and a startup mentality. Jared also said that empowering employees by promoting ownership and transparency has been critical to success.

When it comes to the actual app, providing users with inspiration and keeping the booking experience surprising and playful has also been key. At the same time, Jared mentioned it’s all about optimizing the platform for mobile and making the experience as easy as possible. At one point it was so easy that 4 year olds were accidentally placing bookings on their parent’s phones. Since then they’ve added features to discourage this, of course.

We also talked about the competition, specifically when a competitor launched an app that looked like it was about to strike a death blow against Hotel Tonight. However, users did not warm up to it in the end as it couldn't provide an optimised mobile experience.

Looking towards the future, Jared said there’s still a lot of opportunity in the hotel industry and technology will be a key enabler. Interestingly, he told me that while Chatbots are on the rise in this sector, they are not the future for Hotel Tonight because they want to preserve the ‘soul’ of travel by always having a human available - including through ever dominant messaging apps - to offer a truly personalised experience.


Mobile, Startups, Events