Hipmunk has released an update to its hotel search option, making it easier for users to find a place to stay in the neighborhood that they wish to be near. Starting today, users who are searching for accommodations can find it based on something more than just price and ecstasy.
One of the things that this travel service became known for was its ability to sort things based on comfort level. It first started out with flight searches, but soon evolved into hotels and it seems that the company has found a way to scale the business. With a mantra of taking the agony out of travel planning and helping to book faster and more efficiently, this update appears to move the company closer to accomplishing that.
Replacing Google Maps, the service has found what it says is a more accommodating mapping platform that allows users to find out where all the interesting neighborhoods are. Take the above image of San Francisco as an example. If visiting for a conference or another event, typically a person might choose a hotel based on price, but what if the map also included information and photos of the area so that the user could find out how good of a place it was? Or, what if you’re traveling with a family or are looking for a specific neighborhood that caters to business travel, romance (gay and straight), or for exploring? These categories allow the user to choose accommodations that are in an area that fits with their needs.
With respect to the five travel categories, Hipmunk says that they are standard across all locations. When we asked the company about whether it could vary based on city (e.g. Washington, DC have an African-American history neighborhood, New York City having Chinatown, Los Angeles having an entertainment/music category, etc.), it said that right now it’s not possible, but it would look into potentially adding it in the future.
Hipmunk says that all the cities around the United States have been updated with this new view, but only some of the top cities have the neighborhood guides that contain descriptions and images. And these guides have content that is curated by dozens, if not hundreds of travel writers that the company hired and are local to the area.
For Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk, he says that the service is now serving a a user’s “hotel matchmaker” and that this view will solve the problem of travelers previously needing to toggle between “hotel sites, maps, reviews, and online destination guides in order to find that perfect hotel.”
Every hotel listing still contains the TripAdvisor review rating, along with an industry-standard hotel rating. Once an accommodation has been selected, Hipmunk will still pass the user along to a third-party for fulfillment (e.g. Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, etc.). Each time a booking is made where Hipmunk was the source, Goldstein tells us that his company earns an affiliate fee. Users will be able to search for hotels, hostels, boutique establishments, Airbnb rentals, and more right from the hotel search — in total over 300,000 global hotels.
For those that are accustomed to using Hipmunk on mobile devices, this update will not be available right away — Goldstein says that it needs to be rethought in order to make sure that the experience is maintained. Certainly it seems that what a user sees on the web will be different than what is on the mobile device and app.
At one point, the company thought about taking on Kayak to help people find flights and hotels, but soon after, decided to focus on building a better platform and may even dive deeper into partnering with a booking service, although no firm plans seem to be in place. With Kayak getting bought by Priceline.com earlier this month, this potentially leaves Hipmunk as one of the main services out there that help you find a service without being able to book directly.
This Y Combinator alumnus has raised $21.5 million in funding from the likes of SV Angel, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, Ashton Kutcher, Gabor Cselle, Ignition Partners, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), and many others.
If you want to know more about the background of Hipmunk, we suggest you read Goldstein’s guest post on TNW about how he launched the company.
Photo credit: Travel Aficionado/Flickr