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Hipmunk, the San Francisco-based travel search startup, is launching a new hotel product Tuesday allowing users to search for hotels by location, adding context about those neighborhoods and taking into account how people typically book their hotels.
The average user might book his flight several months before taking a trip, Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein explained, but that same person often waits a lot longer to book his hotel (perhaps explaining the success of companies like Hotel Tonight). And when users do go searching for hotels, they want to know a few critical things: Will the hotel meet the time slots they need? What kind of neighborhood is it located in? And will there be hidden fees or questionable wifi when they check in?
Hipmunk’s new hotel search product attempts to solve these problems from a couple of angles. The site will now provide reviews from local travel writers recommending certain neighborhoods within the city depending on a person’s needs, it will provide pricing and available of wifi and parking, and it will provide calendar integration for business travelers and no-date searching for casual vacationers.
“When we started the site, it was based entirely on what we viewed as the biggest headaches in travel. Which was simply the process for searching flights initially, then moving on to hotels,” Goldstein said. “We thought the flight product does that really well, and the hotel product still has room for improvement. So it’s a big development for us.”
One interesting aspect of Hipmunk’s hotel search is that it isn’t limited to traditional hotels. The company has been listing HomeAway and Airbnb listings already, and Goldstein said while he can’t disclose the exact numbers for traditional versus home-share bookings, Airbnb has been tremendously successful on Hipmunk.
“If those users disappeared, it would have a significant impact on our bottom line,” he said. In June the company raised a Series B funding round of $15 million, with funding so far from IVP, Ignition Partners, Y Combinator, SV Angel, and a number of angel investors including Ashton Kutcher.