Key takeaways

  • Leading US booking app launches in Australia.
  • Competitors aim to provide the ‘fastest’ booking process.
  • Hospitality industry responding to the spontaneity of the on-demand consumer.

One of the most downloaded apps in US history has been launched in Australia today. Accommodation site HotelTonight now offers last-minute room bookings in Melbourne and Sydney via a mobile device.

The Silicon Valley-based business, which has received US$80.7 million in funding since its launch in 2010, has seen its app downloaded more than 13 million times in the US.

In the same vein as another mobile-only platform, Uber, which offers what is largely considered to be an easier, cheaper and quicker way to hail a taxi – HotelTonight claims to be able to conjure a last-minute hotel room at cheaper rates.

But the selling point is not just in beating prices. The app plays up the importance of ease of process – highlighting that a booking can be made with just a few swipes. The company also claims to have average customer support response times of less than ten minutes, operating on a 24/7 capacity.

Faster hotel booking processes

This is a savvy approach to navigating disruption in the industry, but start-up HotelTonight is by no means the only such offering on the market. Hospitality is awash with new technology, much of it aiming to streamline and speed up the customer process.

Booking Now, backed by one of the world’s leading accommodation sites, launched in Australia in May. Its patter talks of browsing with a single swipe and booking in just two taps.

Not wishing to be outdone, Roomlia, an app that is currently only available in the US, claimed at its 2014 launch that it was the “fastest booking process in the industry”.

Elsewhere in hospitality, PayPal’s ‘Pay At Table’ offering allows customers to pay for meals at their restaurant table, using a smartphone. No need to hail a waiter to bring you the bill. Just launched in the UK, the app has been available in Australia since 2014.

Personalised booking experience

With so many accommodation booking options on offer, consumers will of course find attractive the method that provides the most swift and seamless journey. But they are also expecting more of a curated experience.

By offering services through an app, there is greater scope for personalisation. The more frequently the Booking Now app is used, for example, the more it tunes results to the user’s preferences. Hotel Tonight responds to the time-poor consumer by curating its deal selection down to 15 per day.

The hospitality industry is responding well to the on-demand consumer – who takes a ‘what I want, when I want it approach’ enabled by technology. They expect to be able to select services and experiences spontaneously and access them immediately.

This response applies more widely, though. As’s CEO Darren Huston told Wired, the decision to create Booking Now was driven less by the activity of their competitors and more by consumer behavior in a connected world.  “This whole spontaneous internet has become more real,” he said. “People expect more things from their phones.”



Tan Allaway

Tan Allaway is the editor-in-chief of PwC’s Digital Pulse.

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