It’s no secret that online travel is a hot topic in Asia, with research showing a whole lot of optimism for the industry. And HotelQuickly wants to be a huge part of the rising popularity of online travel in this part of the world, with its service that lets tourists book deeply-discounted hotels last minute.
HotelQuickly launched its mobile app in March 2013, and has scaled rapidly — to date, it has chalked up more than 300,000 downloads and 150,000 registered users, while more than 3,000 hotels have signed up with it to sell last-minute inventory. On average, HotelQuickly shows about 20 hotels in any of its over 100 destinations in 12 countries.
Now, it has just scored $4.5 million in funding led by Japanese mobile gaming company GREE, while Thailand-based hospitality tycoon William E. Heinecke also participated in the round. This comes not long after it raised $1.5 million in August 2013.
GREE may be a surprise partner, but HotelQuickly co-founder and chief operating officer Christian Mischler tells TNW that they can learn from GREE in terms of developing a product for a fast-moving market, as the Japanese firm is way ahead in terms of business intelligence and product development.
“GREE is very strong on mobile gaming, a sector that is driven by fast product development, quick iterations, strong business intelligence — in order to feel the pulse of the market and to develop targeted and tailored products,” Mischler said.
Interestingly enough, GREE has also diversified from mobile gaming into launching its own Japan-based last-minute hotel booking service, Tonight. Mischler said the partnership doesn’t mean HotelQuickly will take over that business, as GREE has its own talents to manage the Japan-focused product. However, it seems to make sense to eventually consolidate the product, as it will help HotelQuickly gain a whole new Japanese market.
Mischler tells TNW that the funding will be used to ramp up hiring in particular. “We desperately need IT developers, market managers, marketing and communications professionals,” he said. The company will also start rolling out larger marketing campaigns as it seeks to gain more users.
It’s no surprise if many people think of HotelQuickly as copying the idea of Hotel Tonight, which was founded in December 2010. But in terms of geographical coverage, HotelQuickly is a frontrunner in the Asia-Pacific market, and Mischler argues that “just being in the same space as others does not imply that we are trying to be the same.”
HotelQuickly is planning on rolling out even more cities in the 12 countries it’s currently active in, aiming for another 100 by the end of this year. This is key because as Mischler notes, “a lot of the end user experience is determined by the availability of the best hotels.”
It already boasts of hotel rates that are on average 28 percent cheaper than the lowest price anywhere, but now it needs go all out to boost its inventory of hotels in order to keep its customers coming back for more, and recommending other new users.