Hotel Tonight looks beyond biz travelers to vacations


The iPhone and Android app that helps you find day-of deals on hotels is expanding from a small number of major cities to last-minute vacation destinations. Hotel Tonight, currently in 23 major markets, is announcing 14 new, smaller markets where it will offer its curated day-of deals.

If you’re asking who goes on a vacation at the last minute (as I did), it’s actually aimed at those looking for short-notice weekend getaways, for the time when you just need to get out of town quickly. So the new destinations are concentrated around a couple of major cities: San Francisco, Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.. The new getaway deals are in Sonoma and Santa Cruz, Calif.; Lake Tahoe, Nev.; Newport, R.I.;  Cape Cod, Mass.; Berkshires, Conn. and Mass.; Virginia Beach, Va. to name a few. As with Hotel Tonight’s previous cities, the hotels available fall under three categories: basic, hip, or elegant.

Hotel Tonight says its app has been downloaded 750,000 times since it was released in January (it’s free). The company won’t say how many rooms it has booked for people during that time, but it’s set on expansion. Three more major cities are being added soon too.

It’s good Hotel Tonight is thinking bigger right now. Smartphones (the only place HT is available) are really well suited to the last-minute hotel game. As Joe Megibow, VP of travel bookings giant Expedia, told GigaOM recently, 60 percent of Expedia  mobile hotel bookings and 80 percent of its Hotwire bookings are for stays that night. If Hotel Tonight has hope of establishing itself as the go-to app for deals on curated last-minute stays it has to expand quickly to even more cities.

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