A fledgling start up is hoping to boost hotels’ revenues as well saving customers holiday cash through convincing travellers that splitting their stay across two hotels is the way forward.
Nightly.travel says people staying at two hotels can save as much as 70-90% on their stays and on average create savings of between 30 and 50%.
The firm’s tech uses clever algorithms to find two hotels within a “reasonable” distance from each other within a destination, splitting the stay between them.
But founder Santiago Navarro stressed that the firm doesn’t offer more than two, because that’s when it becomes stressful rather than pragmatic.
“We allow travellers to make that choice,” he said “If moving hotels could save me £1,000 on my four-night stay in New York I would do it. It would give me an extra £1,000 to spend on shopping or eating or whatever I choose.
“You are missing out as a traveller if you assume there is only one way of staying.”
But what about the hassle of checking-in and checking-out mid-trip? Navarro said that’s why they only suggest customers switch once per trip.
“You could switch multiple times to unlock further value,” he added. “But that’s when it becomes massively outweighed by the inconvenience.
“Maybe for specific trips it makes more sense, but our market research suggests you can make meaningful savings switching once without it causing any stress during the trip.”
Already operating in 180 countries with access to 60,000 hotels on it metasearch, Nightly is still firmly a start-up and is seeking further investment.
A common theme Nightly has seen, says Navarro, is aspiring travellers with limited resources mixing a modest stay with a couple of nights in luxury. Depending on variables, you can opt to split a trip 50/50 between two hotels, make it four nights in one and two in another or just have one night at a plus property to spoil yourself for the final night.
Leaving on a high is important, said Navarro – so the bots behind the Nightly search engine always suggest you stay at the fancier hotel last. “You want to finish your trip on a high,” he said.
“Most of us have budget restrictions, however high they might be,” he added. “Travellers are looking for a desired location or quality. Hotel switching means they can have their first choice without compromising for the entire trip.”
At the point of booking, customers are shown a range of results and told the price to stay at just one hotel against the price of switching between two – making clear which day so itineraries can be planned around it. You can book either.
It works by analysing which days are cheaper at certain hotels – something that is constantly being updated by hotels in response to demand, time of year and events.
Navarro said the best results were in cities where there are more hotels to choose from and greater competition on price.
And he thinks the idea of switching is more appealing to solo travellers and couples rather than families – purely because of the logistics involved in shepherding larger groups of people.
But he conceded that the idea relies on a shift in culture.
“There’s a notion that you have to spend an entire stay at one hotel, but really there’s a lot of switching in the travel industry already – like connecting flights,” he said. “Millions of people do that every day and save money. Train fare splitting has been in the news a lot recently too. Why not do it with hotels?”
And he believes it is price, ultimately, that has driven the rise of home sharing sites such as Airbnb – which are eating into the hotel market – which is why Navarro insists that he is a help, not a hindrance, to the hotel industry.
“The hotel industry loves us because we are filling their space,” he said. “They might have one or two nights availability which they can’t fill because everyone wants to stay for longer. We fill in the gaps for them. They’re better off filling the rooms at a cheaper rate than leaving them empty.”
Just as Nightly likes to, we’ll leave it on a high – Navarro’s optimism for the future.
“We operate in a massive space,” he said. “We are a small fish in a very big pond. But we have a very clear and very relevant USP [unique selling point]… it benefits both the hotel industry and the traveller.”