WSJ: Paying full price for a hotel room may be going the way of the bellhop or front-desk ledger. Stayful is part of a fresh crop of technology startups that are offering new ways for travelers to book rooms at significant discounts to prices listed on hotel websites or on online travel agencies such as Expedia.com.
While strategies vary, these sites typically find a way to negotiate a deal with a hotel below the listed rate, or they keep an eye out for price cuts, then help rebook at the lower rate. In almost every case, the websites collect commissions from the hotels while charging the travelers nothing.
This new group includes HotelTonight, a mobile-phone app that offers discounts of up to 70% of listed prices for same-day hotel bookings. Another startup, TripBAM, monitors prices even after a traveler has made a booking. The website offers users the option of canceling and rebooking whenever TripBAM spots a cheaper price at a competing brand.
Stayful’s Ms. Rosner, who had worked at the booking site Hotels.com, says that when she vacationed she would email independent hotels and ask if she could have a room for less than the advertised rate.
To her surprise, she found that her offer was often accepted, or at least she received a counteroffer.
“I told my friends about it, but they felt uncomfortable doing the bargaining,” she says. “So they asked me to do it.” That’s when she decided to start the company. Stayful works with 1,000 independently owned or boutique hotels.
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