It may be a sign of the times that mobile travel apps are beginning to catch up, popularity-wise, to their older, pre-existing website counterparts. People are busy these days, and they want the tools to be able to book their flights, hotels, and dinner reservations on the fly. Enter Hipmunk, one of the web's most comprehensive travel search engines, and their spiffy upgraded mobile app (suitable for iOS and Android) with a new last-minute hotel booking option.
Launching today, "Tonight Only" essentially aggregates information about hotel rooms available on 24 hours' notice. So, let's say your flight out of San Francisco gets delayed and you need a hotel, pronto: simply open the app, scroll through the available hotels, and book a room right there.
Of course, for seasoned travelers-in-the-know, this is nothing new. The folks at HotelTonight have made last-minute bookings their exclusive business, and a slew of others have been cropping up, as well. So, what makes the updated Hipmunk app special?
1. They've Got More Hotels: Hipmunk contains a database of over 200,000 hotels, with its most popular cities being Las Vegas, San Francisco, and New York City. Culling information from a multitude of providers, the app displays the best of what's available, at any given moment, from travel agencies, travel search providers, and the hotels themselves. This results in an extremely wide selection of hotels – and, subsequently, a better chance of finding a deal.
2. And Cheaper Rates: Larger sites like Expedia and Priceline work directly with individual hotels to negotiate a lower rate, but the hotel generally extends that same rate to all sites. Last-minute booking apps are different: Because they enable a hotel to sell extra rooms that otherwise would have sat empty, the hotel is more willing to offer a better deal. In other words, this is why Hipmunk's "Tonight Only" is able to offer discounts of up to 60 percent off the standard room rate.
3. So You Can Make Informed Decisions: In addition to a wider selection and lower prices, Hipmunk can also help you narrow down your options to snag the best possible room. If, for example, it notices that the same hotel is offering a King bed on one site, and a suite somewhere else – for the same price – then it will automatically point you towards the suite, knowing most people (at least us, anyway) would rather pay less for more.