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Show HN: HotelSaver – Save money on your existing hotel reservations (hotelsaver.io)
38 points by matttah on Dec 23, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 30 comments

I think this is a great idea, and it would be a no-brainer for me to pay if you only charged when you save me money.

I think customers (thinking of myself) have a huge aversion to paying money for nothing, in the event there isn't a better deal. If there's any chance I am going to pay for a service that returns no value, I am going to be hesitant.

Part of the problem is I didn't see any "success rate" metric, so I don't know what my chances are of saving money. If you knew it was almost 100% given enough days before the trip - then you could even give someone a money-back guarantee, which would kill the "pay money for nothing" objection as well.

I recently read a discussion of evaluating unsolicited vendor proposals that are supposed to save you money, by making the vendor take on the risk.

For example, say a company promises that by using their product, you'll save $500 per month, for an initial investment of $5,000. Only take them up if they're willing to front the initial cost and pay themselves back with the savings, or at the very least guarantee the savings.

This will quickly show you how much confidence the vender hasin their claims of savings.

HotelSaver's pricing model screams, "We're not confident we can offer you any savings."

If you're not confident enough in your skills or business model to risk $20 worth of effort on my behalf, why should I be confident enough to risk $20 on your skills and business model?

My guess is that there's a wide variation in available savings, depending on things like how far in advance the hotel is booked, where it's booked, what hotel/chain the booking is at. While you might need some manual effort to find the best deal possible, I'll bet you could filter out "good" vs. "bad" prospects pretty quickly in a completely automated manner.

For example, someone submits a reservation that's 40% below average rates for a stay in a week, at a hotel that doesn't typically price match? It should be possible to develop an automated system that says, "Sorry, we can't offer any savings on this reservation." Your staff doesn't spend any time, and your customer doesn't spend any money.

Someone on the other hand submits a reservation at 10% above average rates at a hotel in 4 months? You can fairly safely take that bet and save them some money.

Find a pricing model that lets you do this. Maybe it's a percentage of the savings, maybe a flat-fee that's refunded if you can't save them more than the fee. Maybe it's something else. Either way, you need to show your customers that you're confident in your ability to save them money.

Another great service would be automated re-booking. Partner with a service like FancyHands, so that you can call and request price-matches/adjustments for your customers. For people like me that hate picking up the phone, it'd be a huge benefit. It would also let you verify/confirm the savings.

I think your idea is fine for HotelSaver, but your example, $500 per month savings on $5,000 initial investment, is flawed. When you flip the script around, it's not just the vendor's confidence in your savings, but now the vendor takes on the following risks:

- Risk of nonpayment because of the client

- Risk of nonpayment because the client disputes that the saving is a result of the product

- Payment is delayed until claims can be verified

- Payment can be further delayed because of the client

Great advice on weeding out the ones we won't be able to find savings early so we don't waste time!

Rebooking is on the roadmap just wanted to get the first version out and see if there was interest in this type of product.

This is patio11 level of advice. Kudos!

Exactly. This was awesome until it asked me to pay $19 without any guarantee of success.

Why can't technology automate this to make your cost basically $0? Maybe right now you're doing things that don't scale...but don't test your business model on that, test on what it will become.

No "success rate", no free trial, no money-back guarantee. To build trust, you need to sacrifice. This concept makes no initial sacrifices, and comes off frankly smelling like a bad deal at best, and a scam at worst.

I travel a lot for work, and I often keep tabs on hotel rates for colleagues who may join me last minute. I've rarely seen rates go down as I get closer to my stay.

I completely agree. My wife and I would love and absolutely use something like this. If the service is passively checking for lower rates then I should only pay if it is successful at doing so.

You should definitely charge a percentage of the amount saved instead of a flat, non-refundable fee. You have created value here but very few people are going to use it if they have to risk $20 up front. I have killed a few of my own otherwise viable projects with unnecessarily restrictive revenue models, and that's the worst kind of death because it is entirely preventable.

I, too, will gladly pay $20 success fee, but not if you cannot find me a better deal.

On a separate question, where do you get the hotel inventory and pricing data from? I only ask because you had mentioned that this was a small side project. Which makes me think there are structured data sources for hotel data.


Thanks guys for all the feedback. Didn't want associate this with a specific comment but here is what we're hearing:

* Look at how to make this a risk free opportunity, money back guarantee, etc.

* Play with pricing, percentage of amount saved vs flat fee. Our biggest worry with that is trying to get someone to pay later on. As right now we aren't rebooking it, if we sent you an alert "go rebook on XYZ.com and save 500 bucks" we have no way to force you to rebook or verify if you actually got the deal we found.

We'll definitely be taking in all the feedback here and hopefully trying to work it all into the next version of this.

$20 to see if you might be able to save me money? You are joking. No way I'd pay this unless I knew you could do it, and in 30 seconds of looking you didn't convince me. Shut the front door.

Too many exclamation points in the copy, especially when apologizing for taking $20 from a customer without promising they'll get anything out of it.

The only way I would pay a fixed price without guarantee of savings is if it were pitched as a monthly or yearly subscription, and then I just run all my reservations through it.

Yeah that might work for me as well. The only problem I would have with that is that it's more loosely tied to customer success - so there's a chance people won't get enough value out of the service. By just charging per reservation, they sidestep that possibility and perfectly extract more money out of those that get more value.

Maybe some plan tiers based on number of reservations processed? I can't see myself paying anywhere near $20 each on average though.

Tingo.com does the same thing but doesn't have a $20 fee

We saw this before, but we're not tied to a specific data source or affiliation. We're hoping that by having a broader range of sources, we'll be able to find more savings.

Also - I haven't used Tingo.com specifically in the past, but I haven't had much success in sites which say "book with us and if others book lower you can get a refund." Have you had good experiences with Tingo?

I've only used them once because I don't travel much but I got $63.68 back on my trip to Portland.

Tingo automatically rebooks at the lower rate when found but the downside is they are only looking at their own supply and rates. I'm hoping that HotelSaver is looking across multiple suppliers/sources to find savings in case there's a sale only on x site, etc.

You may want to look at how CruiseFish.net does their revenue model... They have an up-front fee, but it is very low relative to the price for the tracked cruise reservation. That takes a lot of the sting out of the 'You have to pay up front and you might not actually hear about a lower rate'. They also use their forum to provide 'evidence' that their site works for its users.

This is a small side project I made after finding I could make hotel reservations far in advanced and then get price matches or resubmit new ones if the prices fell. Figured there must be others who would like to save money on their reservations and threw together this MVP.

Let me know what you think and any feedback you have.

"We spend the time and energy searching all over the web for cheaper reservations for you", are you really spending time on searching things manually? If so, I wouldn't pay anything for such a service, because you may apparently go on holiday and don't care about my reservation. If all is automatic, then I could go for it. However, then "spending time and energy" is a lie.

I believe anyone should be able to submit their reservation, along with credit card details. If you do find the cheaper rate somewhere, you charge them at that point and present with the offer.

BTW, A typo: we can try to ehysave you money.

Typo fixed, thanks!

As for the automatic it is partially automatic. As we're gauging interest right now we haven't fully automated it.

For the pricing we're looking into different options such as taking only a %'d of amount saved, only charging if we save you money, etc. We'll be doing some testing in the very near future on different pricing models.

Congrats on shipping. :) As others have mentioned, I was turned off by the pricing model. Your idea of taking a % of amount saved, or charging me after you've achieved savings would be much more palatable.

That said, if you have the data for it, it would be awesome to show some proof that this is a widespread thing - that prices do fluctuate regularly and there are these drops in price people can take advantage of - if they are using your service. I think that would help your case.

CPU time and electric energy :)

I think it is a smart idea. Some feedback from my first impressions: * Add some extra contrast. The small text white on blue text is hard to read. * The link 'View your active submissions' shows a page to delete your submissions and not view them, am I right? * The 19.99 up-front came as a surprise for me, it missed an introduction * You could reduce the number of form fields to fill in. Right now it's quite a burden to start using your service. You want to engage your visitor. Maybe split the form with an extra hidden step. Anyway, nice work, we need more of those little side projects!

This is an awesome concept- I always find myself trying to get the best deals. The biggest issue for me is the upfront fee. A percentage of final savings would be far preferable.

Most of my reservations are just for a single night, so $20 each isn't worthwhile.

Do I understand correctly that there is no refund if a cheaper rate is not found? IMO this sounds really shady.

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