Hopper is adding another fintech product to its lineup with
the launch of price freeze for hotel bookings.
It’s a logical next step considering in March
CEO Fred Lalonde said its existing fintech offerings – such as flight price freeze, flight
delay protection and refundable bookings for air and hotels – account for about
two-thirds of the company’s revenue and increase the average Hopper user’s
spend by about 15%.
Hopper’s head hotel of fintech, Anwesha Bhattacharjee, says
hotel price freeze is meant alleviate the uncertainty travelers
may be feeling due to COVID.
“Hotels have traditionally been an afterthought, but lately
hotels have not been an afterthought as people are actually taking road trips
and they need hotel stays. And they are not sure what the right price point is
for these hotels and when to book. So when they see a prediction and we tell
them this is a good time to buy or freeze, they actually take that advice and
they want to commit to the price,” Bhattacharjee says.
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“The other thing we see to is our customers are a lot more
value conscious – they like to be very certain before they make a commitment...
Price freeze helps them do that... It kind of relieves that anxiety of what if
this price goes away... it helps them lock down the price and then make the decision
instead of the other way around and losing a good price.”
Price freeze is available for all hotels on the platform and
the cost is based on an algorithm that analyzes data to predict when prices for
that specific booking may go up or down. Users can freeze the best available rate
at a hotel for up to 60 days.
If the price increases during that period, Hopper will cover
up to $100 of the difference, and if the price decreases the user pays the
lower price. If a booking is made, the price freeze deposit is credited to the booking
price. If the user decides not to book that hotel, the price freeze deposit can
be transferred to another booking made within that 60-day window. But if no
action is taken within 60 days, the user forfeits the deposit.
And because the freeze is guaranteeing a rate but not a specific
room, Bhattacharjee acknowledges there is the chance the hotel could be sold
out when the customer is ready to book.
In that case, if the traveler did not
want to transfer the deposit to another property, Hopper would issue a refund. In
the future, she says Hopper will offer the option to freeze the best rate for a
specific room type.
Hopper has been testing the product for more than six months
and has found for the average two- to three-night stay customers save on
average $43 per stay or $17 per night. Bhattacharjee says the company expects
about one in 10 users will choose to use the price freeze option.