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Airbnb to Acquire HotelTonight (airbnb.com)
413 points by c_t_montgomery 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 365 comments

Fantastic product, super concerned about AirBnB acquisition - not because of what they'll do to the product, but I guarantee their partnerships with hotels and hotel groups will evaporate when contracts expire.

A hotel working with Airbnb is like BlockBuster working with Netflix to share customer data. The hotels groups aren't as fucking stupid as Blockbuster was, though.

Completely disagree with this analogy. Hotels have their place, and in so many ways they can be superior to a home rental.

I am the furthest thing from a luddite, but I personally prefer (as I know many others) hotels to Airbnb. There's a consistency to the hotel product that you can't get with Airbnb that I place a premium on, especially for short or last minute stays.

I'm also not really sure why Airbnb is considered a "tech" co in the same way FB or Netflix is. There's is no real time component to the app, and it isn't dealing with billions of people using the app at the same time like a FB or Google is. In the few times I've used Airbnb over the years I'm honestly surprised by how little "tech" really permeates my experience (i.e. its just a basic web app that facilitates the listing + payment transfer + messaging...once I've made the reservation and paid Airbnb's job is essentially done).

What's amazing at Airbnb is their ability to make places look so much nicer in the pictures than what they look like in reality.

After staying in a crack house in Barcelona, a dirty dark hole in Manhattan, a "private" villa in France where the owner was screwing an endless stream of boyfriends behind the flimsy kitchen door at 10AM, a thermite infested apartment in Sicily with horrid beds, I still feel like a total asshole when leaving a negative review. I'm not sure why I keep going back to it.

I can't stand the review inflation. You're totally disincentivized from leaving an honest review because of the counter review or because you somehow feel like the dick, and I'm sure AirBnB loves it.

A place that turns out to be right on the noisy highway won't have a single review that points this out. Only "great for early risers!"

I don’t think your review can be seen until after the host has also reviewed you — so they couldn’t respond to a negative review in the counter review. But I do agree that there is still pressure to give positive reviews - both the pressure of not wanting to be a dick and the pressure that comes from knowing that future hosts are incentivized to avoid guests with a history of giving negative reviews.

My strategy is to just not review if my review wouldn’t be positive.

Been using Airbnb quite a lot in Europe the last few months though and I have generally found some very high quality and accurately advertised listings — only had 1 that really fell below expectations.

I share my apartment on Airbnb. Counter review is not a thing since (as you said) it’s not possible to see the customer’s review until you post your own (or after the 7-day review window expires, at which point you can’t review the guest anymore). I’d also add that there is not an easy way to know how a guest reviews the hosts. The guest info you see only includes past host reviews. I’m sure it’s possible, but Airbnb does make it very difficult.

I encourage anyone to post real honest, negative reviews if the experience is indeed bad. Airbnb seems to do a good job building the system, and I feel guests are protected quite well, from a host’s perspective. Honest reviews help good hosts, and I would think I’m one of them :)

I tried leaving a negative review once. It was a disaster. I stopped using Airbnb. I started using HotelTonight. Soon it looks like I might have to consider something else.

I left a review that pointed out the host had lied in their listing. They had been warned twice before by Airbnb and had their superhost status removed. The hosts review of me said that I was okay but a little picky.

The customer service agent refused to remove the review.

The host and guest reviews are withheld from the opposite party until both have been submitted. Therefore the review of you by the host was not influenced by your negative review of them.

+++ that, stayed in airbnb 70+ times, a light sleeper myself... how many times I hated apartments for being noisy and reviewers for hiding this fact.

It really seems to depend on the city. For about $100/night in Zurich I stayed once in a huge top floor flat and once in a bedroom with private bath in a giant palace with plenty of room to entertain dozens, which I did. My company's negotiated hotel rate was $425/night and I pocketed the balance.

In NYC all of the Airbnb inventory is bedbug-ridden hovels. Perhaps this simply reflects the housing stock of the region.

It definitely varies. In NYC, I stayed in a 4000sqft Chelsea apartment, with a private bathroom, grand piano and incredible art, for $125 a night.

It does depend on more than just the city.

There’s no chance this is true. Please share the listing

There's every chance this is true. Except I just checked the listing, and it's now $181.

What kind of company pays YOU 425USD regardless of the price of the accomodation where you stay? Genuinely curious. All I’ve ever seen is (in your case) “you can expense per night up to 425USD”

I haven't seen that high, but some companies pay the government per diem rate, which depends on the city. Some cities are $200/day for food alone.

At that particular company at that time you could bank the difference between actual spending and allowance and either spend it on travel in a different way (such as airfare upgrades), donate 100% it to designated charities, or cash out a fraction of it at the end of the year.

people who can afford a nice place in NYC probably dont want to rent out their place to strangers.

Illegally to boot.

Reading through these comments I'm proud to say I knew airbnb was the kind of thing I'd never want to participate in and I never did and never will.

Like Facebook. Some things are rotten to the core.

That might be because it's against the law now to rent a full apartment for less than 30 days. It's actually been illegal but they started cracking down moreso lately.

Uh, maybe you’re just complacent.... not to get into a war of anecdotes, but I live out of Air Bnbs and have lived in 100+ around the world. Very rarely is the place not as it seems, if ever.

Maybe it's because I always go for the cheaper end of the spectrum? It's not that I'm squeamish or a clean freak. For years I'd travel to SE Asia and stay in 5$ beach huts with no hot water. Some Airbnbs I've stayed in were pretty great.

what do you do to afford living out of air bnbs?

I lived in AirBnBs for a couple of years, travelling around Europe. The way I afforded it was (1) to have a decent remote job (not a developer) and (2) to have given up my home in the UK, so no rent or bills to pay for that, and (3) to take advantage of long-term deals -- if you reserve for a month or more you can get a significant reduction on the daily or weekly rate. For example, I stayed for two months in a beach-side appartment in Crete for about £600 ($780) per month, all bills and a cleaner included, which is considerably less than I'm paying now for rent on a small house in the UK.

I haven't tried Airbnb in the US, but I stayed at a lot of places in Europe and Israel and once in Australia.

It really depends on the country. Israeli Airbnbs are usually not fantastic because people don't really know how to this stuff properly even if they are generally nice and want you to have a pleasant stay (and the prices are crazy). A well-chosen* airbnb in Ireland, on the other hand, is usually superb.

*Which entails trawling through several pages of reviews and looking for small details.

> a thermite infested apartment in Sicily

Thermite can't really infest things.

You probably mean “Thermian”.

(Ok, more likely: “termite”.)

A thermite infested apartment would be pretty awesome, though.

It's all fun and games till someone lights the magnesium strip.

There are extreme hobbies, and then there are extreme hobbies.

Can’t “really”?

>Thermite infested

I hope you meant termite [0] and not thermite [1]

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Termite

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermite

I agree and had a similar experience my very first time. It ended up being a space in a dusty basement with pet hair everywhere. However I've had many good experiences since then and some mediocre ones. It could be a case of "you get what you pay for" if you are trying to cut costs on lodging.

"a thermite infested apartment in Sicily"

I sometimes wish I could use thermite against some infestations... wouldn't be surprised if cockroaches evolved to survive that too.

> What's amazing at Airbnb is their ability to make places look so much nicer in the pictures than what they look like in reality.

But hotels do the exact same thing. I don't see how that's super incredible?

The experience from hotel to hotel is pretty variable I've found.

Thermite infested sounds awfully dangerous

I think Airbnb shines with large groups. Me and 10 friends can split a house in the mountains or in some European city for a fraction of getting multiple rooms in a Hotel - with much less hassle.

However, if I'm traveling by myself or with my partner, hotels still seem the way to go. Valet parking in a city centre with room service can make a stay much comfortable.

Agreed. I have been using Airbnb since 2010. I've had more bad experiences when using Airbnb compared to hotels. Earlier it used to be cheaper to stay in Airbnb, but not anymore. Their fees are outrageous and the quality of the accommodation has been wildly inconsistent.

I find it more stressful to stay at an airbnb.. lots of weird rules and policies to keep track of. Airbnb customer service is horrible when things go wrong.

The better Airbnb locations are managed by professional companies. Their prices tend to be high.

Nowadays, I consider staying in Airbnb only for a long trip with a lot of people when I can justify the time to thoroughly research the places. Otherwise, I prefer the consistent experience offered by Hilton/Hyatt/Marriott. Ironically it is relaxing for me to come back to the cookie cutter furnishings where I won't have to open 5 cabinets to find a coffee mug.

Same here. I used to always go for an Airbnb, now I generally do a hotel unless I'm staying with a large group of people and need a big house.

The early Airbnb days were great, because it was mostly people that were renting out their place while they traveled. They cared about their place and they wanted you to care about their place. It reminded me of how eBay was before it became just another marketplace, it was a more personal experience.

Every single bad Airbnb experience I've had has been with the people that are taking out second properties to rent on Airbnb as a business, so they are completely disconnected from it.

Why should an AirBNB be cheaper? In many ways, you're getting more. More square footage, more amenities, more options. Sure, I can stick a family of 4 in a hotel room with 2 queens, but we will be way more comfortable in an AirBNB with a kitchen, living room, etc.

I totally understand why a business traveler would want consistency and simplicity. When traveling with family, I'm happy to pay more for the AirBNB experience, even if one of the adults has to sleep on a sofa bed in the living room, while the other is in a king bed with the kids. (Assuming a 1 bdrm rental. 2 bdrms is even better.)

There's no maids, room service, or any of the usual hotel amenities.

Or insurance. Or licensure. Or security, trained staff, inspections, commercial grade construction.

They should be fined or in jail.

Room service + daily cleanings + guaranteed TV in front of the bed is the best for vacations with my SO. Big group of friends = rent a huge house and have an awesome time. Your comment is spot on.

I don’t care about any of those 3 things. IMO it’s more about predictable experience, 24 hour desk, ability to leave luggage at the hotel, etc.

Totally agree about leaving luggage with the porter between early check in and checkout. On top of the predictable check-in, check-out, security, and elite membership benefits like 4pm late checkout, free waters/lounge access, keycard recovery.

Whereas I want none of those things. I want a living room I can hang out in while the kids are asleep, a kitchen where we can make breakfast so we aren't spending $15/head on food the kids don't like, a fridge and a microwave to store/reheat leftovers, and a nearby park or backyard to play in.

I agree that predictable check-in is nice, and I will seek out AirBNBs with code-based checkins.


Sure mileages vary. Long term stay places like Residence Inn can provide many of those amenities though

Yeah, those are options. They usually aren't very well located, though.

The hotel business is largely focused on the business traveler as their primary market. They only really build for pleasure-travel in non-business markets (see all the Condos available on Maui, or the Hyatt House hotels in Anaheim and Orlando, which have bunk-bed rooms for kids, etc.) AirBNB fell into serving this market, and it's served them pretty well, especially since they were priced below hotels to begin with, and pleasure travelers are much more price-sensitive than business travelers.

I find the nominally long stay brands are increasingly common even in cities. On the other hand, other than a kitchen, they’re not necessarily that spacious compared to a standard hotel room even if they have a kitchenette. But I’m staying at one in downtown Chicago this week and it was cheaper than other hotel options.

If you don’t have a car, the ability to check a bag is often unappreciated if you have a late afternoon or evening flight. Lockers are pretty much non existent most US places in my experience even for hand luggage and, you’re pretty restricted in what you can do for half a day if you’re hauling a backpack around.

Don’t forget late checkin caused by a delayed flight not being a problem.

So is VRBO [1] a tech company? I use it all the time for group rentals in the way you describe.

1 - https://www.vrbo.com/

They could be - if they spend a bit on improving the UI (look and feel) and a enable payment processing and they'd instantly be comparable to Airbnb. I use them 50%, 40% hotels and 10% Airbnb on my vacations.

At that size you can rent family hotels (or apart hotels, or vacance homes, whatever they call it). They can be a bit further from big city, meaning you’ll need cars, but for that tradeoff you’ll get decent service for cheaper than standard hotels.

That’s what we do with relatives, as it’s much more kid friendly than any other solution.

I really don't get the appeal of valet parking. It's expensive and I don't like other people driving my car. It's nice when a hotel offers a garage (super nice when it's snowing)

> I'm also not really sure why Airbnb is considered a "tech" co in the same way FB or Netflix is. There's is no real time component to the app, and it isn't dealing with billions of people using the app at the same time like a FB or Google is.

Personally I think the term "tech company" is a little more of a blanket statement these days. Virtually every large organization has some "tech" aspect to them.

I honestly question who hotels are for. I'm in the top 2% in income, and I actually prefer staying in a hotel, but they'r e just insanely expensive.

Do you mostly stay in hotels for business reasons? Or are you just rolling in money?

If an Airbnb is a lot cheaper there is going to be a reason, often it's location. I tend to move around and the ridiculous cleaning fees for Airbnb make it a non-starter. I'm flying to San Diego tomorrow and Hotel Tonight has several nice looking choices at around $100 a night (~$120 with taxes and fees). I just looked at Airbnb and I can get a studio apartment in a similar area for $79 a night which seems like a steal, but it's $184 after fees! $70 cleaning, $19 service fee and $16 "Occupancy taxes and fees". Airbnb is worse than Ticketmaster in this regard.

I would only use Airbnb for long stays when I need extra bedrooms. It just doesn't make sense for the traveling I do or for most business travel.

This is generally the case in cities in my experience as well. Though right now I'm spending a few weeks working remotely in the countryside of Ireland and it's been a great way to kind of live like a local, which is an experience I like to seek out sometimes.

It sounds like that host has configured their listing wrong if cleaning is the same price as a night rental. Or they set the base cleaning price very high on purpose to deter short-term guests. I'm used to seeing the cleaning price more ~$10–20 per night.

I’m a multi-unit host and I charge a $50 cleaning fee for a $100/Night two-bedroom.

I’ve been thinking of doubling or trebling the cleaning fee and reducing my nightly rates lately to better mirror my costs: I spend almost as much time greeting and cleaning guests who stay two nights as those who stay two weeks, so I spend a lot more time in two weeks if I have multiple guests.

Upping the cleaning fee to $100-150 so it pays for my ‘greeting time’ as well sounds fairer for everyone: it’ll be cheaper for long term guests, as it should since they’re less work per day.

Interesting. I actually charge much more for the room, and less for the cleaning fee. Charging a low cleaning fee sends the message that I'm not doing as much cleaning, and I don't. Fresh sheets and towels, of course, a full roomba-sweep, clean toilet/shower/bathroom sink and clean, scrubbed countertops are a must. But the fridge has some spots, the floor doesn't get mopped unless it's bad, and there's often dust on the windowsills, spiderwebs and dirt in the patio door cracks, the windows have streaks, etc.

I've found that if I charge less for cleaning, then do less cleaning (I can usually turn my one-bedroom space in about 75 minutes, if I get the roomba started before I do), I'm happier, and the guests tolerate it. It's not hotel-quality, but I'm not providing a hotel, I'm providing a short term home.

I am a host. I pay $80 for cleaning the unit. I have to pay regardless of whether the guest stayed 1 night or 2 weeks. 1-night stays end up being very expensive.

And I agree with Airbnb being like Ticketmaster in the fees department. It's insane. What's more annoying is that guests often attribute faults (like the fees, or the myriad of bugs in the app that makes hosting hard) to the hosts, not to Airbnb itself. The hosting experience is really painful.

Yep. I got a hotel when I stayed w/ friends recently and had been planning to sleep on their couch but they didn't provide me a blanket, pillow, or towel (great people, terrible hosts lol) and a hotel room that was quiet conveniently located near them was cheaper than any Airbnb after fees.

I like how you find a place that's $89/night and by the time it's booked you're paying $600 for a weekend.

What is considered "insanely expensive"? Hotel prices widely vary depending on the city and time of year, and within a market there's 1* to 5* hotels.

I'm looking at hotels in Manhattan for this weekend and there's 4* hotels for $150/night. Is that expensive? That is equivalent to what some people pay in rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in SF or NY.

Thats 4700 a month. Sure there are some people paying that a month in rent but that definitely qualifies as expensive.

The fact that on a nightly basis a 4* hotel in the most expensive part of NYC is comparable to the 80th percentile for 1-bedrooms in SF or NYC actually shows that it is very reasonably priced because what you're really paying for is the flexibility and convenience of a short-term stay + the cleaning/security/concierge/other amenities.

By the same logic, if you eat at a restaurant and it costs only 50% more than what it'd cost if you made it at home or order a beer at a bar and it only cost 50% more than what it'd cost if you bought it at the grocery store you'd be really happy, though chances are you're paying at least 100% more, if not more.

It would be "expensive" if you lived at a hotel in the same way it's "expensive" if for every meal or every beer you drank you had it at a sit down restaurant or bar.

Right, I agree with you that in the case of NYC you're getting a great deal, but in other places you do pay a heavy premium for a hotel. For example, I checked a few places where I know you can get a 1br for $500ish a month, and hotels there are mostly more than $100/night, which is ridiculous.

Furthermore, I wouldn't say that the concierge or security are worth mentioning. I know personally I feel about as secure in a hotel as with an Airbnb - or at least I'm always aware of the possibility of theft from hotel rooms.

I understand labor costs etc are a big part of the price, but I wish there were more low-cost hotel options. Not hostels, but an actual room to yourself. Why does that have to be expensive? Just cut the room area in half and half the price! Yotel is nice, but they're still not cheap, and don't have many locations.

If there were low-cost hotels available, for $30 a night or so, I'd spring for them much more often. But when you can grab a nice-looking Airbnb for $25-30, vs a motel for $50-60, it's hard to justify the motel.

Yotels tend to be in pretty high-priced areas. I like how they optimize for space. There’s one I especially favor in Manhattan. It’s not cheap in absolute terms. But it’s well located for many purposes. Has a nice common area. Uses the room space well. And is clean and quiet. And a relative bargain for a Manhattan.

But sure it’s in $250 or so a night range.

Median 1 bedroom rent in Manhattan is $3300. $4700 a month for a short term lease isn’t bad at all.

The average Manhattan hotel room is considerably smaller than a 1-bedroom. I don't think I could live in that for any period of time. (Also fwiw, I doubt winter weekends are high season for Manhattan)

If you live in hotels you earn status, status gets you upgrades to large rooms. Room size is a non-issue for me.

Median studio rent in Manhattan is around $2500.

$4700 is a good price for a daily rental with housekeeping.

With hotels, I can get late checkout until 4pm, and sometimes check in early. Additionally, they’ll hold on to my luggage even when the room isn’t ready and they’ll hold on to my luggage when I checkout and I’m ready to leave the city. I can be guaranteed that my room will be professionally sanitized and cleaned.

If I have status either via frequent traveler program or credit card, they’ll reward me with points multipliers, upgrades, and free breakfast and lounges (free beverages, waters, and snacks). Marriott’s BonVoy program comes to mind.

Airbnb’s, on the other hand, have strict check-in and check-out times. Then I have to carry my luggage for the rest of the day from 11am checkout. And for Airbnb’s without a keypad entry system, I have to negotiate a check-in time with the host to obtain a key (and if I lose a key, I’ll owe a key deposit).

I also find them priced within comparable range to Airbnbs. Not that I advocate anyone doing this, but somebody could try a /[1-9]{1}[0-9]{3}/ brute force search for a SET code/corporate rate on Marriott :) It’s only 9,000 permutations to find a good rate... (SET code: 1000, 1001, 1002...9999)

I've been to several Airbnbs that have flexible check-out.

Airbnbs are incredibly overpriced for what you get. They remind me of food trucks. Everything leads you to expect lower prices than a brick and mortar restaurant yet the prices are similar due to the small scale.

I live out of hotels pretty much full time. Really, it's not as expensive and as bad as you make it seem. My average nightly rate averages out to just slightly above my rent, and I have a lot more flexibility. At the end of this month, I'm ditching my place and going full time, and I'll actually be saving money overall, and I can be anywhere in the world without the feeling of my empty apartment burning a hole in my pocket back home.

Not every city is New York or SF with their crazy hotel prices. In expensive cities, I'll use points to save money.

What cities do you prefer and how much does it cost you, out of curiosity?

I'm on what's considered a fairly good wage for my area (Melbourne), but if I were to do this it'd cost me close to 70% of my take home salary. Whereas I could rent a beautiful apartment right near the city for about 30%

I make a SF-level income, and swapping SF rent for living in hotels full time doesn't break the bank if you enjoy spending time around the world, in many places which are significantly cheaper than SF. I could save a ton of money by renting at local prices instead of staying in hotels while I travel, but I like the lifestyle so I'm not bothered by the cost differential. Basically I compare my lifestyle of luxury hotels around the world, compare with SF apartment surrounded by filth in soma, and at a similar price range the former makes me much happier.

My average nightly spend is about $119 all-in (I track it all in a spreadsheet). Market rent for my apartment in SF would be $4,500, i.e. $148/night, assuming every night is used. If you do any amount of traveling, the cost per night used of your apartment increases.

$125 can buy you some really really nice hotels. I've stayed at 5-star properties in Bangkok at that price. And if I'm willing to go limited service or 4 star (but still nice, I have standards), I've done stays as cheap as $45 in Bali, $65 in Kuala Lumpur, $80 in Bangkok, $125 in Taipei, etc. In China, I've stayed at St. Regis and Ws for barely over $100. I can pretty much always get something nice for under $200. I learn the tricks to lower rates through promotions and other programs like Citi's 4th night free or through TAs who have access to special rates.

Given how much time I spend in hotels, I have top status with three different chains (Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton, and mid-tier status with IHG). That means I always get the best room available, and I've gotten some absolutely ridiculous suite upgrades (twice the size of my apartment). I also usually get free breakfast, access to a club lounge with free afternoon food and booze, late checkout, welcome gifts, and other perks.

With Hyatt and Marriott I have a dedicated team member to take care of any issues or requests. Basically, I get treated like a king by all of them, for the same price as my rent in SF.

For me, living in hotels full time, vs. $200+/night used in rent in SF… the decision was a no-brainer.

Do you just work remotely then? That's pretty cool if you can work somewhere else and draw an SF-level income.

How did you end up with top status on so many? Just unavailability of your preferred chain at different locations?

Hyatt and Marriott I earned. Hilton and IHG I "bought."

Hyatt: 80 nights in their hotels last year (5 from CC) Marriott: 105 nights in their hotels last year (10 from CC, 1 from birthday) + required $20k spend for Ambassador status

Hilton: credit card for Diamond IHG: credit card for Platinum, $200/yr to add Ambassador status

211 total hotel nights last year.

There's 365 nights in the year, enough to earn top status on every chain you want. I plan on adding Shangri-La to the mix this year.

Just curious, how do you handle mail and packages?

I struggled with this a lot in my first few years as a digital nomad, having mail delivered to my parents house, bills often lost, etc... Then someone told me about virtual mailboxes. https://www.postnet.com/virtual-mail/ . You pay 15 bucks a month and they can act like your home address, accepting all your mail. For an additional fee, they can either scan the mail, or forward it physically to wherever you might be at the moment.

To the outside world it looks like your permanent address. I use mine to buy health insurance through Obamacare and also have registered my car to this address.

So, I still have an unused apartment where I go collect my mail every month. Once I move out at the end of this month, I plan on sending most mail to a virtual mailbox. I may have more important things sent to friends in San Francisco.

The other big annoyance about living as a full-time nomad is laundry. So far I've managed with a mix of laundromats, laundry shops, and the occasional hotel laundry when it's reasonably priced (rarely).

I'm a nomad and I converted a lot of my wardrobe to wool with brands like Wool and Prince and Unbound. I can wear a shirt for a long time before it needs dry cleaning.

I find dry cleaning to be cheap compared to the time I would spend doing laundry activities.

Ironing an expensive dress shirt with a rusty iron at an Airbnb is not something I want to entertain.

I haven't found a good solution for workout clothes though so I usually stay in an Airbnb with at least a washer.

Not sure if there are analogous workout shirts and shorts but the ExOfficio Give-N-Go boxer briefs are the most travel friendly item I own. They're sorta like Under Armour material but even thinner and lighter so they can be hand washed or air dryed insanely fast. Definitely looking to get more clothing that fits in that category.

More info / Wirecutter review: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-mens-and-womens-under...

The market should converge, and in fact we see this (and it's well attested in this comment section).

I like airbnb for a couple of use cases:

- parts of cities without many hotels (usually means without much tourist attraction). You can stay near friends without imposing on them.

- transient events. E.g. PAX sucks up all the hotel rooms in Seattle and there are nice AirBnbs that show up along the "traditional" model (they aren't professionals but folks wanting to make a few extra bucks opportunistically). They tend to love a business booking as they know I'm not likely to smoke crack in the living room

Apart from those cases, these days a hotel is likely a better bet even if the cost is comparable.

As a counter to that, I don't know the last time I stayed in an AirBNB and it was cheaper than a local hotel. Rather I was forced into it by people I was traveling with.

Not sure of your group size or location but I've had success getting a big place that's also reasonably nice for 8–10 people cheaper on VRBO. In the ballpark of <$100 per person total for a long weekend.

Echoing other replies to this, I find them to be very competitively priced for the places I'm going. Anecdotally, I have a trip to NYC planned next month and the hotels are in the same range as most Airbnb listings, and you get more than a room in someone's apartment.

Not sure what you mean. These days boutique hotels are about the same price as similar airbnb listings. We're not talking about the four seasons, but even for boutique hotels I trust them more than airbnb.

Out of curiosity, do you live in a high cost of living area? I’ve found I have lots of friends who live in places like Florida or Ohio, where rent is cheap, tend to not flinch as much as I do at staying in hotels. We make similar amounts of money, but when tons of it is being eaten by rent/mortgage payments it’s hard to feel open to splurge on anything.

I don't know about op, but airbnb is crap for accessibility so I've learned my lesson and always choose hotels.

I have the opposite opinion. I just use priceline to get get a good deal on a hotel. Its always cheaper than airbnb. Plus its a pain to browse through hundreds of listing to try and figure out the catch in an Airbnb listing because of the non standard places.

I agree with some of the other replies: nowadays, AirBnB rarely has a price advantage once you factor in the extra fees. It still wins in terms of uniqueness, for large groups, if you have kids, want to cook, etc.

Whether or not a company is a "tech" company is kind of a muddled question, but taking even a brief glance at https://airbnb.io/ (their engineering blog) makes it clear that AirBnB does some pretty serious engineering.

For example, their post about their work in search ranking is quite interesting [1].

[1]: https://medium.com/airbnb-engineering/machine-learning-power...

I'm not suggesting they don't have engineering challenges, but if you stack ranked the engineering challenges by difficulty across Airbnb, Uber/Lyft, Google, FB, Netflix, Amazon, Dropbox, Pinterest, etc. I don't see how Airbnb would not very easily rank last by a long shot.

Airbnb is basically just a prettier craigslist with a payment transfer mechanism and messaging. It isn't to say it isn't a great business, just that the "tech" part of it is not really much more than a web app.

Not sure where the threshold between tech and non-tech would be though... Dropbox is just unison on the cloud, Pinterest is just a photos website etc.

Also engineering challenges aren’t always obvious from the consumer facing product. It is true that AirBnB founders have design backgrounds rather than engineering ones, but from what I’ve seen of their engineering and data science work, they would qualify as a tech company in my estimation. They did come up with Apache Airflow which is a well regarded data pipeline management system.

Well like every tech company the entire purpose of an externally facing engineering blog is to maximize their "tech/employer brand." That's the whole point. I would also guess that some of the projects highlighted are could probably fit into "complexity for complexity sake" e.g. teams of bored or overzealous engineers who are trying to justify their jobs by working on complex things that are probably overkill for the actual problem their trying to solve. That's pretty common.

I'm just pointing out that the nature of Airbnb's business means that there's no real-time, no streaming, no billions of concurrent users, etc. The tech boils down to a 1) web app 2) payments mechanism and 3) messaging. Nothing particularly revolutionary on the tech side.

> I'm just pointing out that the nature of Airbnb's business means that there's no real-time, no streaming, no billions of concurrent users, etc.

I guess I’m not sure why it is necessary for a tech company to be defined by these criteria? That’s just me.

I'm not saying a "tech" company has to be defined by how "hard" the tech is, or that a "tech" company isn't a "tech" company because it isn't working on LIDAR or AI.

I'm just pointing out that Airbnb's application of "tech" isn't necessarily "hard" tech, relative to other companies that it's usually associated with or compared to in the SF startup scene.

Fair enough. I guess your original statement was more that AirBnB shouldn’t be consider a tech company in the same breath as FB and Netflix, and not that it isn’t a tech company.

So does it even matter whether they are or aren't?

Internet schminternet.


Not to take a stance either way, but pretty much any org will find a way to justify the salaries of the people it employs. It’s neither informative nor surprising that a company that employs lots of engineers will have lots of engineering problems.

The question is: if you sacked everyone but the core team who keeps the trains running, what would happen to the business?

> AirBnB does some pretty serious engineering.

They might but after all these years you still can't search for a room with a private bath despite the platform has the data and detail pages show it.

Do you mean private with respect to the host or private with respect to other guests (e.g., booking a single room in someone else's place)?

I'm trying to understand the underlying problem you're getting at. I haven't had trouble with getting places with my own bathroom though I do not stay in Airbnbs with multiple concurrent guests much.

Airbnb traditionall had three, now four "Home types": Entire place, Private room (Have your own room and share some common spaces), Hotel room, Shared room. The entire place will (almost always) come with your own bathroom and kitchen and living room etc. It's an entire place, after all.

A private room typically means you get your own bedroom but there are others living in the same home, maybe the owner, maybe other guests. Living room, kitchen are shared. The question is whether you also get a bathroom for your own use or not. This is displayed even in the listing (4 guests · 1 bedroom · 1 bed · 1 shared bath vs 2 guests · 1 bedroom · 1 bed · 1 private bath) but you are unable to filter on it. They understand this detail is important enough to put it in the listing but you still can't filter on it.

And the reason this matters, well, that should be pretty evident: multiple strangers can be in a kitchen or a living at the same time but not in a bathroom. A shared bathroom is a botttleneck in the morning and an overall pain in the neck to be honest. And in some places the private room-private bath combo is by far the best value.

I like Airbnb but I am surprised by their reputation as having expertise in front-end web development. The web UI is very slow to load and during on-page interactions, it is confusing to navigate between listing and related pages, and there are other badly designed aspects, such as the way that in order to select a menu item, one has to move the trackpad horizontally and then vertically to avoid dismissing the open menu while en route to the desired menu item.

>There's a consistency to the hotel product that you can't get with Airbnb that I place a premium on, especially for short or last minute stays.

Every time I try to use Airbnb I have to 'request' from the host and I swear 4 out of 5 times they cancel the requested rental because they're staying in the place or some other BS. I know when I get a hotel room its instantly reserved and there is no question about its availability.

I couldn't agree with this more. Especially for business travel where the goal is to get in, have your meetings and get out, you can't beat a hotel.

Although some Airbnbs may beat a hotel in every way, consistency holds true value in certain situations.

> A hotel working with Airbnb is like BlockBuster working with Netflix to share customer data. The hotels groups aren't as fucking stupid as Blockbuster was, though.

I don't feel like this analogy applies, however. You can make the argument that hotels are better than AirBnB. It depends on what you value. If you are business traveler (or heck maybe even not), you probably prefer a hotel because you know you are getting a consistent product and experience each time and there is more avenues for you to have your grievances resolved, and quickly -- i.e. "my room stinks I need a new one now" or if you even mention bed bugs the county health department will be there faster than you can post that AirBnB complaint.

If you are a vacationer trying to stay in some obscure location and need somewhere to stay, you probably value AirBnB more.

I think this misses the point of the analogy. Airbnb and netflix are both new competitors to hotels and blockbuster respectively, which are (or were) the entrenched players. Whether hotels are better or worse than apartment rentals doesn't matter. The point is that generally, companies don't want to share data with or help out their competition.

> Whether hotels are better or worse than apartment rentals doesn't matter

It absolutely matters. Blockbuster in it's later years was not only entrenched, but also a bad experience. People were tired of being price gouged with late fees. Netflix was a better experience, even if you got your DVD a couple days later.

> companies don't want to share data with or help out their competition.

We share data with our competition all the time. It may help them, but it also helps us as well. You must decide if the business value it brings you is greater than the perceived data it brings them. Obviously you don't want to share market secrets, but sharing some logistical data doesn't seem too harmful. You aren't sharing the "secret sauce"

Sometimes competitors make the best friends.

Really it's more like movie studios/rights-holders letting Netflix license their content. To me it's a bad move if

- Airbnb are going to "create their own content" and try to kill the hotels eventually (very unlikely), or

- Airbnb take too large a cut (possible).

Another thought (should I have edited my original post?) - this may have been a pure Customer List & Historical Data acquisition play. They may have purchased HT fully knowing that they'll lose hotel partners at contract expiration... could be next year or in 2025.

I mean, what kind of data could they really want? Lists of people who stay in hotels when they travel? Probably cheaper ways to get marketing lists like that. Their market is essentially anyone and everyone that travels.

They probably want to put Airbnb listings as options on the hotels tonight app.


If you know someone goes to London every November, your targeting return just went up 100x.

The nature of HT is last minute spur of the moment bookings.

I guess there are at least two categories:

1. Those that are in another city, knew they were going to be there, and didn’t book ahead (or just need an extra room?)

2. Those that live in a city and decide to get a hotel room tonight.

I’m actually having a hard time figuring out who’s booking last minute (and why a site specializes in it) other than for parties (large groups or.... by the hour).

I’m like 50/50 with booking things in advance and not. Prices don’t seem to go up too much so sometimes I value the flexibility of not booking until needed.

> not because of what they'll do to the product, but I guarantee their partnerships with hotels and hotel groups will evaporate when contracts expire.

I'm not sure. It may be harder to book future dates with HT after the contracts expire, but in my experience HT is most useful when AirBnB isn't (same day booking.)

I'd imagine hotels probably like the last minute bookings. Also you can book at 1 or 2am when hotwire cuts you off at midnight and many other ways of booking stop working after about 10pm.

No, this was my biggest gripe. You can't book a room at 2AM and expect to get it that same night.

If it's this late, is there much point in booking?

I would just turn up. If it's possible it's going to be very busy, I might phone ahead first.

I don't think Airbnb (Netflix) marketplace necessarily covers for some of the benefits a set of clients look for in Hotels (BlockBuster). However, going along with your analogy, I think this move is 2 fold: data driven & marketplace synergy. I believe Airbnb is interested in the data it can get from a model business such as HotelTonight and to be able to cross-connect it to their own. I think their end-goal is to have Airbnb become a one stop shop for not only current users of AirBnB, but also hotel users.

I believe a good portion of large hotels are aware that at some point they will need to tap into the Airbnb market and if that marketplace (Airbnb) manages to create an environment where both sides can live or directly compete with each other, everyone (winners mostly) will be happy with the outcome.

The real tricky part is that synergy can be difficult to have and different players (hotel customers, airbnb customer, hotels, airbnb renters) may have different degrees of resistances to Airbnb plan.

I think their main focus will be to create a B2B environment that will make big ticket customers (e.g. IBM) want to use their system to get either a rented place or a hotel room for their consultants and business travelers. Lots of money to be made in this area.

Also scary considering that if Airbnb does not like you, for whatever valid or invalid reason, you are not welcome in either local hosting or hotels worldwide. Given that Airbnb already declined hosting people they considered attending a lawful political rally (the "hateful nazi's of Charlottesville"), their increased reach concerns me.

You could still stay at any hotel worldwide. Just not using hotelstonight to book. Although I doubt any bans on Airbnb would extend to hotelstonight because liability for hotel damage does not extend to booking agents.

Whereas, with Airbnb, they cover any damages that guests may do or issues that may arise from the hosts as well.

It feels like we're heading towards (or already living in) China's social credit score system but administered by corporations.

Do you know they banned using your horn here in Shanghai and replaced all the mopeds with electric ones over night, the city is less polluted and I can sleep in this cheap AirBnb. Pretty good dictatorship in this regard. While we argue they are winning.


Corporations shouldn't be the judge and jury. Yesterday they banned nazis, tomorrow anti-vaxers and the next thing you know you can't find a bed cause you used the wrong gender pronoun. Slippery slope, very concerning.

Check Joe Rogan's recent show with Jack Dorsey and Vijaya Gadda for an endless list of such examples.

Having to police "social" platforms is a bigger challenge than solving any technical problem and the insistence that it be done is slowly tearing those platforms apart.

The wise man bowed his head solemnly and spoke: "theres actually zero difference between good & bad things. you imbecile. you fucking moron"

No. I did and they clearly are policing people making threats and deliberately winding people up. If you don’t like the rules don’t use the platform.

Either people agree with you or they're Nazis? Maybe you should rethink why you are getting downvotes. It may be more due to people thinking that companies acting as gate keepers or moral compasses can very much be a slippery slope and you simply saying it's not does not change that people think that.

Downvotes simply silence a post. If someone doesn't agree, they can rebut, but that is not what a downvote is.

In this case, its a slap on the wrist for a comment that doesn't positively contribute.

I fail to see how calling out that Nazis are unequivocally evil is not positively contributing when someone is trying to gain sympathy for being discriminated against for being a Nazi. I bet you would also say that it’s “not the time” to have these sorts of discussions. Too bad, I’m not going to be quiet about this. It’s deeply sad to me that this community is willing to quickly rally around Nazis and shame people who speak against them.

It is because you're ignoring what the comment is actually about. Airbnb declines hosting of people they deem unworthy, because they have the wrong political ideology or spoke out about the wrong thing.

Who is to say that they dont expand this? Can I still go to demonstrations and airbnb or will that be banned as well? Can I still criticize the president and airbnb? What about beeing anti-war or pro-war?

I’m sorry, this is a dumb argument. I will not interface with people who think Nazis are a slippery slope. That’s bullshit and you know it. This is a bad faith argument

Denying people their right to gather peacefully at a lawful political rally, simply because you posit them as irredeemably evil, is a hallmark of fascism. And even though I do not agree with your blatant Nazi mindset, I will fight for your right to state your backwards views, and attend lawful political rallies of your choosing, without a multinational company stifling your activism by denying you lodging after they snooped on your online behavior.

The same sympathy that is lacking for anti-immigrant activists, is on display in your posts. Can you think of a single legit purpose of anti-immigrant activists? If not, how are you not anything but creating division and misunderstanding?

The one thing we need to be intolerant about is intolerance.

I'm worried about the 3rd party vendor thing, either way you look at it, if I want a hotel tonight bi do not want a Airbnb, or vice versa. I wish Amazon had an Amazon only setting, etc.

Those who have used HotelTonight, can you comment on your experience?

For me, there have been several rare occasions when I needed a room at last minute, but HotelTonight was never actually cheaper than any other aggregators or booking directly with the hotel. All being equal I vastly prefer booking direct so I get my points and elite benefits. I guess they have a fancy interface, and that's... it? Maybe it's market dependent (I only tried it in NYC and SF)?

I use it a lot (several times each month for the past ~3 years).

I absolutely love it.

- You can trust that the hotels are good enough. Never had a bad experience

- Takes <15s to book

- They have their own rewards system which really starts to add up the more you use it

- They may never give you the absolute cheapest option available in that city for that night, but you'll get an amazing deal on a higher-quality hotel

- My experience using other booking sites for 'cheap deals' has been that you're often treated as a lower-tier customer, for example being given worse rooms (ground floor, no windows etc). The HotelTonight experience is the opposite. ~25% of the time, I receive a room upgrade without asking

- No hidden charges

I'm not a person who is loyal to a brand by nature. But HotelTonight is the closest I've come to feeling that way so far.

Similarly, HotelTonight was one of the first digital products I've used and had a fondness for. Not a fanboy, just really like the experience. I've been using HT for leisure since 2011.

This. I was stuck in Seoul because I missed my train and needed a hotel for the night. Downloaded HT for the first time, it found me a nice boutique hotel for not very much, and I was booked in less than 5 s (didn’t need to enter any payment info since it supported Apple Pay). The quality of the hotel was excellent even though it was rated Basic on HT.

"My experience using other booking sites for 'cheap deals' has been that you're often treated as a lower-tier customer, for example being given worse rooms (ground floor, no windows etc). The HotelTonight experience is the opposite. ~25% of the time, I receive a room upgrade without asking"

They're all OTAs. You're just as likely to get a "good" room with HotelTonight as you would with Priceline, Hotwire, etc. The quality of room you receive is mostly dependent on room availability and the check-in agent.

> You're just as likely to get a "good" room with HotelTonight as you would with Priceline, Hotwire, etc.

Can't speak for every hotel (obviously), but I know for a fact this isn't true for several.

Hotels always have better and worse rooms - it's very rare to have a building where there isn't a loud/dark/musty room or two.

In most hotels where I know a member of staff, they freely admit to having several 'worse' rooms which are given to booking.com/priceline etc guests first, regardless of availability.

They purposefully save a few 'better' rooms in case valued customers show up last minute. For some reason, HT customers get lumped into this category - maybe because it's assumed they have the purchasing power to become a 'real' customer in the future (but that's just a guess).

There is a high chance that this is anecdotal, specially if both OTAs were offering you the room at the same price. For bigger chains, the person at the front desk hardly cares about where you booked from. It could be the case where there were very few rooms remaining when you booked with OTAs other than HT so you ended up with worse rooms.

> In most hotels where I know a member of staff, they freely admit to having several 'worse' rooms which are given to booking.com/priceline etc guests first, regardless of availability.

You don't think Hotel Tonight is lumped in there with booking.com and Priceline? They're all OTAs. They're all treated the same.

I’ve had the same experience

The one time I used hotel tonight, I was placed in a room that was literally the size of the full size bed + ~2' around 3 of the edges to navigate. The bathroom was almost larger than the room itself, and I had to store my luggage in there because there was no where else. I didn't mind too much, because I was only in the city for 1 night and mostly just slept there, but it was a ugly enough result to make me not want to use hotel tonight again.

If that was Central London, and the price not particularly high, that wouldn't be especially unusual. Except the bathroom would probably be smaller.

Chelsea, but the NYC one, not the London one.

Same question applies. By point of comparison im rarely paying much under $300/night and often more in Manhattan.

Yeah, it was around 250. But I assumed that with hotel tonight you were getting a good deal for using otherwise unused inventory, not getting essentially market rate for a hotel

I can often get a room for $250 at one of my preferred, maybe slightly off the beaten track, clean/quiet hotels especially on the weekend. Of course prices can rise dramatically from there.

I find it a lot easier to find $250 “bargains” in Manhattan these days than in SF. Recent event I ended up couch surfing with friends rather than pay $650/night there.

I noticed the prices are getting closer to any other option. When I first started using HT the deals were great but this year that seems to be evaporating slowly.

> Takes <15s to book

That's a nice feature. I don't think I've ever booked a hotel that fast.

Not sure how this relates to my comment.

Do you use it even if you plan the trip well in advance? Have you ever run into problems finding a room or being forced to take a room in a distant part of town?

> Do you use it even if you plan the trip well in advance?

Yes, often. I'll check there first at least.

If it's a special occasion (Valentine's Day for example) I'll probably use another booking platform.

> Have you ever run into problems finding a room or being forced to take a room in a distant part of town?

Yes, never been worse than the main booking sites though. I was in SF at the same time as the Salesforce conference was taking place a few years back, for example. Nothing available anywhere.

Heard about them but haven’t used them. If your experience is representative then I hope AB&B doesn’t ruin them.

That’s my hope too. I hold the same high praise.

Ironically the first time I used HotelTonight was when my Airbnb turned out to be a scam leaving me with nowhere to stay well past midnight. Airbnb's customer service was horrid. It was really difficult to find a phone number -- they clearly don't want you calling them -- and once I did find a number, I was on hold for upwards of 30 minutes until I finally got a person who told me that I would have to wait over an hour more to make sure the host actually abandoned me.

Lots of these companies create the fake assurance that you can be connected to customer support within minutes, but then go out of their way to hide it behind as many menus as possible and don't have a phone number to call. There needs to be a site indexing and monitoring this.

I was once very positively surprised by booking.com. I perceived them as super scammy because the website is one giant big dark pattern. But when shit hit the fan while in China, they proactively reached out and gave me a 20$ voucher (mind you, the hotel was very cheap, so that was actually a good amount of money) without me having any receipts to show for.

> It was really difficult to find a phone number -- they clearly don't want you calling them

Maybe it changed in the mean time, but googling "airbnb phone number" showed it right in the search page. That info came from https://www.airbnb.com/help/contact_us, wherein clicking "It's something else" shows a "Call us" option, which has the number.

I use HT quite a bit. It used to be significantly cheaper 5 years ago since it was only last minute hotels. They've since expanded to work more similarly to other booking sites since you can book way in advance now.

You get decent discounts with their loyalty program, which doesn't work with points, but just tracks your spend on the platform and levels you up as you spend more.

I think a huge factor for me using it is their customer service. You can text them via the app over anything and they'll respond back pretty quick. You also get upgraded "concierge" service as you level up, though I didn't find this to be that much better.

I'm worried that AirBnb will ruin HT since they have such horrible customer service. Hopefully they don't. It's nice not planning your hotels far in advance, land in a city, and take it from there.

Amazing app. I was in Bordeaux, having dinner, time slipped away, drank too much...what to do? HotelTonight. I would find something, book it, and be done. Back to dinner.

I did this 7 different times all around France. It was a perfect experience. The fact that the UI/UX makes super duper easy to view, book, set, & forget. I think its better than opening a chrome tab or any other mobile app thus far.

Don't even try to compare to other sites desktop experience. I can book everything before you would launch a chrome tab. Lastly, every time I showed up to the reserved hotel (usually later), everything was taken care of and never was my reservation, lost, not taken, or a problem with rooms. THE UI/UX is the reason this app is so amazing.

That aspect never occurred to me since their stated value proposition was always super cheap last minute deals. But their prices were never particularly great so it kind of failed at that one job. If it had been positioned more of a super-simple Uber for hotel rooms then maybe I would’ve approached it from a different angle and not been so disappointed.

Anecdotally - I've always gotten excellent deals in the Bay Area and I've used HT there a lot. It usually gets me prices about 15-20% less than what I'd get via the traditional booking sites. What makes you say it failed at its one job?

I count on it heavily. When I travel i don't make itineraries or plans, so that i am free to follow my desire.

If you're trying to find a comfortable and quiet bed after 2 flights and a train, airbnb, even with "book it now" is a nightmare waiting/organizing game, direct booking in foreign languages with different tax/fee structures can be really confusing.

For instance, in Paris I ended up in a $450/ni 5 star hotel, and was ~$30 away from playing french phone tag for a room in a shared airbnb apartment.

> HotelTonight was never actually cheaper than any other aggregators or booking directly with the hotel

I think every major hotel chain guarantees that their direct price is the lowest, and why wouldn't it be when there is no middleman, so why go anywhere else when you've found the hotel you want?

You can even search the absolute lowest rewards membership pricing for all the chains at www.roomkey.com, which is owned by all the chains together.


Edit: I'm going to have to retract my comments about cheapest price being on official hotel brand websites. I did a cursory search and find many cheaper options on Hotel Tonight (and expedia) for same day reservations than the brands, and while I haven't looked at all the brand's best price guarantees, at least IHG's exempts them from having to provide the lowest price within 24 hours of checkin, so it seems like a loophole to let them dump rooms for cheaper on third party websites day of arrival.

This is based on a concept called price parity, for which there are exceptions - including opaque rates, packaged bookings, and last minute / mobile. HotelTonight is able to fit inside those limitations when selling rooms last minute - so they are indeed often cheaper than other aggregators or booking direct.

They don't really though, I have called and they told me they were unable to do it and once got a sure they'll price match, but I'll have to pay the much higher rate and then file paperwork for a refund of the differnce... Like that will ever work!

I've never actually found this to be true. I go through Kayak, and I always check the hotel directly just to be sure. I've done this 9 times in the last 4 months for Loew's, Ramada, Best Western, and Hilton.

If you actually have a better price, then at least these brands will give you discounts or points. I don't see why they wouldn't hardcode it into their systems to not allow a cheaper priced to be reserved unless via their direct non commissionable channels, seems like a pretty easy thing to prevent.







Edit: I'm going to have to retract my comments about cheapest price being on official hotel brand websites. I did a cursory search and find many cheaper options on Hotel Tonight (and expedia) for same day reservations than the brands, and while I haven't looked at all the brand's best price guarantees, at least IHG's exempts them from having to provide the lowest price within 24 hours of checkin, so it seems like a loophole to let them dump rooms for cheaper on third party websites day of arrival.

I mean sometimes you just want to book a room and not have to file a claim to get a refund.

I'm familiar with the reservations systems the hotel brands use, and I have yet to come across a situation where the same hotel room is being offered for cheaper on a third party website. It's also their official policies, and as I said, it doesn't make sense to me that they would advertise that and then not set a simple technical limitation in their reservation system to prevent anyone from being lower than them.

Yes, for some specific hotels that don't belong to a big brand, it makes sense for them to price discriminate so that the person willing to pay $500 doesn't end up paying $200, but on the level that the big brands operate, it doesn't make sense to give up 15% of gross revenue for that reason, especially when they have better ways to price discriminate by tiering their rewards members and the rate at which people earn points.

Edit: As jonknee pointed out in another post, the ihg.com price for Kimpton Monaco in Seattle is higher than the hotel tonight price, and by quite a bit, and there's a carveout in the best price guarantee for rooms reserved within 24 hours of checkin. So I guess the best price guarantees aren't really worth much...

In theory you are correct, in practice the hotel will play dumb and say they'll match it but after you file paperwork proving it was cheaper somewhere else. I've literally booked on HT from the front desk because they can't match the rate. It makes no business sense, but yet here we are.

Another example: I just checked HT for San Francisco tonight and the Hyatt Regency is up for $179 after taxes and fees. On Hyatt.com it's $259.

I see that now. I thought that the hotel would value consistently saving 15% gross revenue on commission over training people to shop for rooms on third party websites.

I've found Priceline Express to be much cheaper than the direct price, for major chains and otherwise.

In principle an aggregator is showing customers multiple hotels at once, so each vendor has to discount to be competitive. If you are going specifically to a single one they could exploit your lack of information to charge a higher price.

People at some point realized this though and the individual hotel sites had to promise to be the cheapest to hope to get visitors at all.

Not true. I recently tried booking a flight on Cathay Pacific. Their price was $50 more than Kayak/Orbitz. I asked how come? They said, Kayak/Orbitz buy in bulk from Cathay Pacific so, they offer some discounts sometimes. For cathay pacific, they guaranteed income, whether or not tickets are sold.

chrisseaton specifically mentioned "every major hotel chain", which is true. See my other comment listing all the websites for all the big (American) brands showing they promise the cheapest prices on their own websites.

Edit: I'm going to have to retract my comments about cheapest price being on official hotel brand websites. I did a cursory search and find many cheaper options on Hotel Tonight (and expedia) for same day reservations than the brands, and while I haven't looked at all the brand's best price guarantees, at least IHG's exempts them from having to provide the lowest price within 24 hours of checkin, so it seems like a loophole to let them dump rooms for cheaper on third party websites day of arrival.

But the hotel websites aren't the cheapest prices. They get around it by selling the discount rooms through sites like hotwire or Priceline. So you can't actually see the name of the hotel until checkout. I frequently get cheaper prices than the hotel site by going through hotwire.

That's called opaque pricing, and that's different since you are getting a discount in exchange for not knowing which specific hotel you are getting to stay at so it's not exactly comparable to going to your preferred hotel's website and choosing the room you want. However, as I have edited into my prior comments, I am finding that the best price guarantees may not apply on the day of arrival, and third party websites are evidently cheaper than hotel websites. Seems like a shortsighted move since now I don't trust the hotel website to have the cheapest price, so I'll go via third party websites and hotels have to pay commission.

You can save even more if you use a cashback site when booking through Priceline, Orbitz, etc.

The Best Price Guarantee is largely a lie. It's a Best Price Guarantee on a rack-rate rooms. The problem is most OTAs will offer a significant discount (sometimes more than 50%) for a non-refundable room. The rooms are exactly the same, they just classify them differently, so they don't have to actually have the best price.

> when you've found the hotel you want?

that is the hard bit right? I guess you can showroom with expedia etc then book with the hotel direct.

Well if I'm travelling on business in a major western city realistically I'm only going to consider a handful of major brands, but yeah or look at aggregators then book directly, or at least check the price.

I've used it a fair amount of the last few years. It worked quite well and found some good deals -- as others mentioned -- when it was last minute only. Stayed on place in Carmel at a price that I had never seen for that particular property.

I'm concerned, like others, that contracts and deals will evaporate as they end (as part of AirBnB)

This has been my experience exactly (I’ve tried it in American and international markets, but don’t recall specific cities). I try them like once every 6 months and am always disappointed. You go thru the whole flow to find that there’s a Hotel Tonight fee and therefore the rate is more expensive (or at least isn’t cheaper) than you’d get by simply searching various other travel sites, and they don’t give you a guaranteed room type. Maybe if you don’t care about finding the best deal it’s a nice experience for people? (I most certainly do like to get the best deal though.)

Based on my limited experience, prices seem pretty inline with Google's hotel search but booking experience is much nicer. Last summer I was traveling in Europe and would end up booking a hotel in few seconds and showing up 15min later for my stay. The experience is so much better compared to Booking.com et al which require credit card input, bad websites, enless upsell and dark patterns.

I hope they keep HT as clean as it has been as the regular Airbnb experience is starting to feel like Booking.com; hidden fees and endless fake sense of urgency among other growth tactics.

I've used it a bunch in UK and Northern Europe... absolutely loved it. Most of my travel tends to be last-minute and I've always found the selection and pricing to be great. I've never had a hotel that wasn't at least "ok" and several times I've gotten ones that have been stellar. Having the whole thing integrate with Apple Pay made it so fast, too.

This news is devastating. My least favorite lodging company just bought my most favorite.

My question would be -- what other apps provide an experience close to what HT did?

I've used it merely for the convenience, sorta like Uber/Lyft. I'm sure there are certain circumstances where some independent driver at SFO could get me to the city for less but I appreciate the consistency and convenience of the apps.

One time my wife and I had way too much to drink and surprisingly, even in the middle of nowhere Ohio (Cedar Point) I was able to book a place right near the park from my phone while waiting in line for a rollercoaster. Very rad.

Extremely useful. Full stop. Great acquisition. Used it many, many times.

Big feature: geo-specific deals. Makes sense from a business perspective as it's Hotel Tonight, which mean hotels may have excess inventory near you for that night who's rate could be instantly negotiated down.

Changes the whole travel calculation, do you book ahead for peace of mind or wait until the night of to see if you get a good geo-specific deal?

Used HT since 2016. I think the biggest feature for me has always been the last minute convenience. It's true as other's have mentioned that the pricing has mostly reached an equilibrium with competitors but they still offer decent discounts based on several factors including points like your current location while you have the app open. I usually open the app before I get on a flight to see what's available, then when I land at my destination airport and I'm ready to book for same day or night, the prices tend to be discounted by a fair amount for some hotels.

The points and perks are also an added benefit, like not having to physically checkout at the front-desk for certain hotels once you've attained a "perk level" (read: loyalty points).

I will say I'm a little tepid about this deal, although very happy for the HT folk for what hopefully is a decent exit. I hope this only helps the app grow and offer more features and stay true to core, although it will likely be absorbed into the Airbnb app experience

I travel a lot. And there is no hotel I am aware of that requires you to physically check out at the front desk. Unless they have old school keys, you just leave. No perks program needed.

I have only used them twice, both in 2016:

Booked a solid $134 room in Leicester Square at about 3pm same day. Went great.

Booked an $82 room at an EWR hotel, a little cheaper than other OTA rates including apaglobal. Went fine.

They seemed to have access to consolidator-style inventory at rates lower than I found in the markets where I was looking on the dates where I was looking.

Same, tried a few times, gave up since it was always more expensive than booking/hotels.com/expedia.

I've used it several times to good effect. Got to stay in a decent room in Vegas when I was just passing through for 15 bucks. They offered it to me for a second night for 25.

Ive also used it in LA, SF, bumfuck Arizona, etc. Each time I got better deals. But I used it to find hotels day of.

i've never gotten a deal that good but generally find hoteltonight to be 25-50% cheaper (assuming booking within 3 days of arrival). i've stayed many times in SF for less than $100/night at nice (but not extravagant) hotels.

Great. Used it for probably > 25 bookings. Super easy to use, super helpful staff, and it seems to be actually cheaper.

Agreed that points and benefits not being given sucks, but that's the case with any 3rd party. HT's loyalty definitely adds up, though.

I've used it all over the place and it's great. I even opted for it once when my AirBnB host cancelled last minute.

I'm hoping this is basically the expansion that happens. When hosts have emergencies, AirBnB can offer a local backup :)

I did get one great deal on HotelTonight back in 2012, so I got in the habit of checking it regularly but after that Priceline was always cheaper, often by a significant margin.

I have the app installed for 2 years. I never got a room through them, but have tried every time I needed it. The rooms I ended up staying at were cheaper somewhere else.

Hotel Tonight has found me some last minute bargains (usually in the class I like, which is "Hip") but for corporate style accommodations, its less advantageous. It's selections are pretty interesting

Where it is fantastic is in UX. It is simple, clean and staggeringly efficient. And I've used it on three continents equally well.

I used to live a few hours from Atlanta and would decide to visit at the last minute. I've heard about HT in its infancy and thought it was a great idea that made sense... But all these years they've never been cheaper. I gave up on them.

You still get your perks and points (at least with Marriott and Hilton) even when you don't book direct. You just need to give the clerk your member number when you check in. This also includes bargain sites like hotwire.com

Nothing but positive experiences with the app. The price is usually around the same, but you can find smaller boutique hotels and hidden gems depending on where you are going.

Used it in 5 different occasions throughout a 2 year timespan, never found a deal that was cheaper than just booking directly with the hotel.

I'm in Miami/Orlando.

I've used it once in Cancun, and got a room way way cheaper than what booking.com and others were displaying.

It was pretty quick and easy.

The room and the hotel were meh.

love it, often found great deals in places like Paris a week out.

It’s interesting that no one here, after 160 comments, is speculating about the impact to Booking.com

B. is the 7th largest internet company in the world but because it’s in Amsterdam and not US based, hardly anyone think about them. They have incredible technology, often on-par with the big ones but I’m not anyone here could name one problem where they pionnered a solution.

Disclaimer: I used to work for one of their subsidiaries.

> B. is the 7th largest internet company in the world

By what measure? Just checked and it's not market cap, not revenue, not number of employees, and not earnings.

They are close though in market cap? They should be able to get into top 10.

Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent, Alibaba would be the huge ones. Then Salesforce, PayPal. Don’t know Alipay and Uber market cap space yet if they are internet companies.

I don’t know if you can include companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco as internet companies. If you include Microsoft, still puts Booking into top 10.

I think it's easier to make this kind of statement about how they measure up in terms of public e-commerce companies and market cap. Amazon's bigger. Alibaba's bigger. Who am I missing? I think that would put them at #3 in that particular segment.

Fun fact from some years ago: It used to be a head-to-head race for 2nd between Booking and Ebay (when ebay was at their peak and included PayPal).

I got them at #9 or so in market cap for all Internet companies (see sibling comment). In yours and mine, they are pretty high up.

I just googled “largest internet companies” and a list popped up with ‘Priceline’ in 7th, so it was a year-old list. I would agree it’s a vague statement but they are much larger and more interesting than most people suspect.

Completely disagree on the technology part, everything being written in Perl doesn't help and the user experience is not as good as Airbnb. The main thing going for them is that they have basically every hotel on their platform. And like others mentioned, that a lot of people prefer hotels to airbnbs.

I heard the integration part was mostly java. I’d guest they have both alive internaly, a bit like amazon at a time (?)

PS: dealing with hotels is playing with decades old technology. I think they’re doomed to keep a flexible and tried and true stack to deal with all the atrocities they’ll have to adjust to.

> Completely disagree on the technology part, everything being written in Perl doesn't help

Doesn't help what exactly? Lots of Amazon.com still runs in perl so not sure why this matters.

I can’t and I won’t comment on that larger part of the code base, but I suspect that you are right. (I did leave the company after all.)

Having every hotel on the planet requires some very heavy-handed growth teams and they have impressive talent there. It also requires to develop very flexible solutions and, even of the main code-base has some problem, that flexibility is worth mentioning.

There are three areas where I’ve seen some world-class internal products (on par with what I’ve seen at Facebook): data engineering, A/B testing, Machine learning hosting and serving. I’ve asked them to open-source and started what I could to help them do that, but they are far from being able to do it.

>the user experience is not as good as Airbnb.

This user's perspective is the opposite.

Booking.com has gone the other way, integrating private apartment rentals in their hotel listing. I’d imagine they saw it coming and as a customer they seem to be doing fine.

Also as they are one of the king of the hill, any move in the market is basically a move against them. For now at least I am not sure there will be that much impact.

I avoid booking.com because I loathe the asshole design patterns in their platform. I like booking my hotels without "<blink>get this room now without thinking or you'll miss it!</blink>" flashing everywhere.

I’ve heard of rumours that sometimes, those banners are not loaded on pages that should and someone might have blamed uBlock Origin for that. I wouldn’t know anything about this.

my favorite part about Booking is that it will tell me how many other people are currently looking at the last available room i'm looking it. Let's me know if i have to swoop it up quickly!

This is nothing if not a dark pattern, and I would be very suspicious of what metric triggers "looking at the room"

There are several copies, and one is explicitly that: they have loaded the same page recently. There are other copies, like rooms remaining, the recent slope of bookings is steep and will hit zero soon, etc. All are reasonably true.

I'd always assumed that was a lie. To me, the most useful feature of Booking is the refundability of most of their reservations, so I don't have to book hotel and flights simultaneously.

It's not a lie.

Booking has received tremendous regulatory/legal scrutiny on that group of features and they wouldn't be caught red handed doing something indefensible in that space. That being said, there are clearly some decisions to be made about what "currently looking at" means: As engineers, we all know that nothing is tracking user eyeballs (thankfully), so in reality these things are necessarily implemented as a rolling sum of non-bot page views within X minutes.

Whether or not the information is correct, of course, doesn't mean anybody has to like the feature. I personally really don't like it, but acknowledge that it was a feature with shockingly significant business impact when first released.

Source: Used to work there. Read the respective code at the time (~2015/2016 or so).

Good to have an authoritative answer on this! Thanks.

I can confirm (like smueller1234) that it is a real number (within reason on data flowing and estimates) which is actually a surprisingly hard engineering feat to achieve.

I have heard several other sites where the number is a lot more… interpretative.

I question the accuracy, and that's as someone who has worked in the industry.

They just say that, because the sense of urgency on the customer's side is the seller's greatest asset.

A/B testing at work


That feature has been extensively A/B tested and every argument about how garish it is fails while someone points at a number on the screen that is long and has $ at one end.

Is hotels.com related to them in any way?

Not that know of.

pretty interesting. My hypothesis is that there’s a large cohort of people (myself included) who hesitate to use airbnb because there is still a real issue of inconsistency with back and forth with host, key hand off, etc that people who are attracted to hoteltonight (extremely last minute bookings) would hate and that airbnb is trying to figure out how to appeal to that base.

My personal experience with Airbnb is that they simply don't know how to do support. Even basic issues take multiple days to resolve, and usually involve many phone calls.

HotelTonight has been awesome there. You can get a representative on live chat and resolve most issues while you're still en-route from the airport.

On one hand, I am hopeful Airbnb will be able to learn from HotelTonight, but in reality, it seems most acquisitions end up with the acquired company diffusing into nothingness :(

Or I book with a hotel directly and I (essentially) never have issues that require me to deal with the corporate support line. I realize I’m not as price sensitive as some but I mostly want to minimize lodging hassle when I travel.

I've had HotelTonight installed on my phone for years, but have only had to use it once or twice. I only travel a few times a year and tend to use it when my plans fall through. I generally book ahead of time, often with the hotel directly.

The most obvious example I had using it was when I missed a flight and it was rebooked for the next morning. I was tired and I remember getting in a cab/Uber and finding out the friend who dropped me off wasn't able to let me crash there for the night. Before we had left the airport I had booked a room nearby and could direct the driver there. The hotel was nice. I might have had to wait 10m for the hotel to receive a fax confirming my booking (faxing reservations seems to be pretty common with a lot of hotels).

There's no way I could have done that booking directly. It would have taken me 10x as long to figure out which hotels were nearby, near my cost, what rooms were available, and check out. I do those things when booking ahead of time, but they're also much harder to do on a phone.

I'll be bummed if it I lose this contingency.

Fax? Seriously? I haven’t used a fax with a hotel in decades. I’d probably try one or two major chain apps and, failing that, Expedia or booking.com. Perhaps HotelTonight has more options for last minute but there are plenty of other sites that let me book quickly online.

:shrug: I've booked quite a few times in various ways online and it seems fairly common for the hotel to receive the booking via fax--at hotels big and small. I'm pretty sure I've had this happen when booking through the chain's own booking site. If you book ahead of time it probably happens without you knowing all the time.

I just pulled up the reservation. It was in 2013 to a Fairfield/Marriott 3 miles from the airport.

For an example of the types of hotels, the other two bookings I've made were to Sonesta ES Suites in 2014 (during a surprise blizzard) and a Four Points/Sheraton in 2015.

If I had status or points I'd probably check out that chain first. Since I don't, sticking with a single chain isn't the most convenient or the cheapest.

Especially for business travelers. The quality of the average listing has gone down quite a bit (lots of crappy quick flips with no amenities), combined with the inconsistent experience, means I've pretty much stopped considering airbnb for business travel (I did used to enjoy it compared to being stuck in a hotel for work which can get pretty depressing)

They're aware of this, and are in some stage of building out a business travel product. I believe part of their product roadmap includes identifying/segregating some of their more reliable inventory that's more suitable for business travelers. No idea exactly what's launched beyond what's at https://www.airbnb.com/work, though.

(Not affiliated with AirBnb, but I had a chat with the tech lead of their business travel team last year).

It wouldn't surprise me if Airbnb moves to the hardware space pretty soon, trusting their long time hosts with say wall-mountable boxes that speak Airbnb APIs and can facilitates key exchange, door locking/unlocking based on timed codes, and so on. Heck, build one and Airbnb will most likely buy it from you. ;)

That stuff already exists, albeit in less advanced forms (a lock box with a number code, for example). If hosts aren't using them I'm not sure that adding another layer of technical whatevers on top of it is going to change anything.

Yes, not necessarily novel either. Some Hilton and Marriott hotels have “digital keys” that you’re granted through their app once you check in on the app to unlock your room.

They already advertise third party products for hosts on their website IIRC. They are fully aware of the market.

Airbnb expanded their offering to hotels (including boutiques and bed and breakfasts). According to them, they're seeing strong growth in this segment[0], which is probably related to your hypothesis: there's a group who aren't comfortable with the home-sharing model (or people who simply like hotels) and they're finding ways to serve those people.

The HotelTonight acquisition seems like it's a way to more rapidly scale their hotel inventory than anything else, although I suppose last-minute travel may simply be better served by hotels than home-sharing.

[0] https://press.airbnb.com/more-hotels-are-using-airbnb/

Does this mean the next step is developers start building out brandless hotels that are a collection of individual investor owned rooms that are serviced and let through Airbnb. There’s already “invest in a hotel room” schemes (that are mostly fraudulent/garbage) so maybe this is an inevitability.

Check out Sonder

I think it's a smart choice to give their customers the option for hotels, it solidifies Airbnb as a one-stop-shop for travel experiences.

There's a lot of cases where a hotel makes sense, such as short trips (especially if it's just one night), or business travel (some companies have policies that exclude non-hotel stays from reimbursement for safety concerns), and so on.

You don't want to send these customers elsewhere.

To be fair, I have used HotelTonight for day of booking and it had a better deal than I could get through any other location online for a very nice hotel.

I’ve been under the impression that some of the large sites force hotels to sign agreements, which prevent the hotel from giving better rates to other sites.

Found one article mentioning this [1].

Edit: but could be these don’t apply to last minute or same day reservation. Looks like for example Hotels.com best price guarantee excludes these.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/sep/15/australians-t...

All the big brands get around this by offering cheaper pricing restricted to their rewards members reserving directly via the brands' website or call center, which is non commissionable. It's free to be a rewards member for all of the hotel rewards programs, so there's no reason not to go that way if your goal is to spend the least amount of money.

Edit: I'm going to have to retract my comments about cheapest price being on official hotel brand websites. I did a cursory search and find many cheaper options on Hotel Tonight (and expedia) for same day reservations than the brands, and while I haven't looked at all the brand's best price guarantees, at least IHG's exempts them from having to provide the lowest price within 24 hours of checkin, so it seems like a loophole to let them dump rooms for cheaper on third party websites day of arrival.

Found this was true for car rentals last weekend. Went to an aggregator, saw their price, went to the to the car rental company to compare. Aggregator price was 2/3rds of the rental company's lowest price.

Have found the same for airline flights. Google Flights showed me a flight on Delta and provided a link that was much cheaper than I could find on their own site.

Absolutely no problems with either reservation. Not sure why people would go direct unless it's their employer's policy or something.

Correct, but this is being slowly phased out in some areas, particularly in the EU due to regulations. e.g. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2d2ab9fe-a2a5...

By how much? I suspect they simply were operating at a loss to build up their brand. Jet.com did the same thing.

HotelTonight's model is to find and offer up rooms for last-minute demand that would otherwise go empty. Hotels are happy to offer discounts for these. It's really just automating the same deals you could get if you called.

The bigger brands don't offer any discounts compared to their official sites. They can change prices many times during the day, but the official brand's website will always be the cheapest.

Edit: I'm going to have to retract my comments about cheapest price being on official hotel brand websites. I did a cursory search and find many cheaper options on Hotel Tonight (and expedia) for same day reservations than the brands, and while I haven't looked at all the brand's best price guarantees, at least IHG's exempts them from having to provide the lowest price within 24 hours of checkin, so it seems like a loophole to let them dump rooms for cheaper on third party websites day of arrival.

This is what priceline et al have been advertising for two decades.

Last minute? That was HT's original thing, same day bookings in an easy app.

No, it wasn't there original thing. Last minute hotel deals have been a thing for decades online. Oh, they have an app? That doesn't make their ideal original, nor were they the first to book 'last minute deals' on an app anyway.

Last-minute same-night deals was HotelTonight's entire business before they added all the other features like memberships and future bookings. That's where the name comes from.

I didn't mean they were the first to do deals but nobody cares about that anyway. Users only care if it works for them, and HT has one of the smoothest apps with some of the biggest discounts. When I started using HT years ago, I could book a room in less than a minute at a lower price than any other online source.

Anyways, as to the original point, they might have lost money on some deals but not all of them, and this is directly from private hotel owners I spoke with.

Well literally their entire pitch is that you book last minute and get savings. It would be weird if it wasn't at a discount...

I just pulled it up for Seattle and the Kimpton Monaco is up for $115, $140 after taxes and fees. From the Kimpton website it's $208 or $264 after taxes and fees. So about half off, pretty good deal! This was just the first one in the list, there may be better deals.

I am surprised to see that Hotel Tonight is cheaper than the ihg.com Kimpton website. Although, I wonder if IHG leaves themselves wiggle room to offer different pricing to different channels by saying their price guarantee doesn't apply within 24 hours of checkin:

5. Find a Lower Rate. If you find a lower rate on an eligible, non-IHG website within 24 hours of making your reservation on the IHG direct channel, and it is more than 24 hours before the standard check-in time for the hotel where you made your reservation, tell us about it by completing and submitting the online claim form (“Claim Form”). We will verify the lower rate by comparing the rate found on the IHG website or mobile app with the rate found on the non-IHG website for the same hotel, room type, stay dates, number of guests, and cancellation policy.

I'm actually shocked that they would do that, because now I will definitely shop around, I had erroneously thought their best price guarantee would save time.

Kimpton charges an additional 'resort fee' which is collected directly by the 'resort'. If you book direct, it's quite possible this is included in their price, but IDK.

Just compared this exact hotel for tonight on hoteltonight.com and hotels.com and travelocity.com

Same price across all 3 sites.

Chances are, if you see a price lower than the major travel sites, they're losing money. In this case, they're the same price.

Or chances are it really depends on where you are and if they have properties they have negotiated with vs general inventory that all the travel bookers use. Sometimes there are deals, sometimes there aren't.

Seems they're 'just another booking site' IMO.

Funny you mentioned that one, I’m staying at it next week and booked through HT.

I've gotten $300-400 rooms for ~$120 several times. Nice boutique hotels in resort destinations, but at off-peak times of year.

Having lived in close to a 100 airbnb apartments soon and never once experienced an issue with the checking and checkout or a larger concern about the quality or communication, I'd recommend you to give it another go if you have the chance. Because your concerns are not warranted.

It’s fine 95% of the time. If you are booking an Airbnb same day as check in it’s going to have to be an instant booking, which is a fraction of the Airbnbs available.

If you’re a biz traveler and your flight is delayed or getting in late the comfort of knowing you can enter a hotel that is big, easy to find, and lobby open and attended to 24/7 is much more comforting than anything you can book on Airbnb. It’s hard to argue with.

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