With ‘Snap Your Stay’, HotelTonight Launches A More Visual (And Less Review-y) Take On Hotel Reviews

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Mobile, Startup, Technology
Tags: ,

20130508-223913.jpg Before he co-founded last-minute hotel booking
startup HotelTonight, one of CEO Sam Shank’s
previous companies was the hotel review site
TravelPost. And today, he’s launching what he said is
a reinvention of the hotel review, optimized for mobile
phones. “What makes mobile different is, mobile’s with you all
the time,” Shank said. “With hotel reviews, you’re sort
of summarizing your stay. It’s text-oriented. But on
mobile, the primary input device is the camera. It’s
more photo-based.” The new feature is called Snap Your Stay, and it asks
HotelTonight users to take six different photos during
their stay — one each of the bed, bathroom, view,
lobby, and exterior, plus a “cool find” of their choice.
You can adjust the lighting in a photo, but there are
new filters per se. The photos can be shared on Facebook or Twitter,
and they’ll also show up on a hotel’s profile page in
the app, sorted by things like the type of image (so
that you don’t end up with six pictures in a row of
beds) and whether other users liked the photo. And
the app will also start featuring a page with recent popular photos. Shank argued that Share Your Stay allows users to
capture their experience during their stay (as opposed
to trying to remember it afterwards), and to do it in a
quick, convenient fashion — he noted that you can
take and upload all six photos with just 20 taps,
whereas writing a review would take “thousands.” (Put another way: Typing out an in-depth review on your
phone would be a pain.) Now you might be thinking, “Hold on, that doesn’t
really sound like a review. How do I explain that the
staff was mean? Or that there were a lot of weird
noises at night?” And for now, at least, you can’t.
HotelTonight already asks users whether they would
recommend the hotel — Shank described that as a quality control mechanism (a few hotels have been
removed from the app for low ratings) and a way to
make users feel more comfortable about their
bookings. Meanwhile, he described Share Your Stay
as a way to capture the experience, which will help
other HotelTonight users decide whether a hotel is right for them. When I asked whether he’d consider adding a text
review feature in the future, Shank answered that the
team was trying to make things as simple as possible
to start, and that HotelTonight will enhance Share
Your Stay based on what users want. As for what you get for taking those photos, Shank
said that HotelTonight is currently offering a $5 credit
for completed photo set. He added, “What I’ve learned
with reviews in general is, the reason people give
reviews is to give back to the community.” The Snap Your Stay feature is available today in
HotelTonight’s iPhone/iPod Touch app. The company
plans to introduce it to the iPad and Android apps too. HotelTonight is also announcing something called the
“HT Price Guarantee.” If you can find a lower price for
the same room on the same night on another site,
then HotelTonight says it will make up the difference
in credits.

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