Mobile hotel app Blink to add payments and eyes news sectors

Mobile last-minute hotel booking app Blink Booking is finalising plans to integrate third party digital payment technology and is looking at other sectors like three-star hotels, restaurants and car hire.

Madrid-based Blink has attracted $2.5 million in venture capitalist funding from a range of sources including Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman.

The move to enabling payments through the app will mean customers will only have to upload their details once. Currently they have to upload them every time to secure the room.

UK managing director Mark Datta said Blink was finalising which payment provider to use and it expected to go live within a couple of months.

“People are more and more comfortable using their credit card via a mobile and more comfortable with data roaming charges,” he said.

Datta said Blink was in a prime place to exploit a clear trend towards more last-minute bookings for hotels seen in latest Google data.

Only a year ago 5% of hotel searches for last-minute were on a mobile device; now the figure has risen to 33% with overall mobile last-minute searches up 400% in the last year while desktop fell 5%.

“Most of our suppliers will use a channel manager which is very fixed pricing. We want to offer a totally different system for hotels for them to get rid of rooms on the day,” said Datta.

Because Blink Booking is purely a mobile app it does not get caught in the price parity agreements adhered to by online travel agents and its rates do not appear on price comparison sites.

The app geolocates the user and offers only four hotels in the area, chosen by Blink as the best deals for that day. Currently London has three regions but it is expected this will grow to eight.

To date Blink has focused on the four and five star hotel market, claiming to offer between a 20% and 25% discount on the lowest market price – usually referenced against booking.com.

Rooms are sold up to 6am on the day of arrival and rates are inputted by hoteliers at 11am and 8pm each day. Blink recently extended its booking window to include next day reservations.

“At the moment we are adding a few cities every week. The intention is to cover certain chosen cities fairly well. We are not going to have the depth of a .com.

“The focus is very much on ease for the consumer; rather than the nightmare of filtering through 200 hotels on a desktop you get four all pre-selected and you know you are going to get a really good price.

“For it to work we need to have enough hotels to create an auction dynamic. We want really fresh auction-style prices from the hoteliers.”

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