Two views of the new Price Freeze function of the Hopper app, showing (left) a step in the search process and (right) a list of the active freeze.
After a year of lockdown and restricted travel, Americans want flexibility and freedom in planning their trips.
They got used to it during the coronavirus pandemic when the travel companies struggled last spring and summer to adapt to both market and medical realities by not only loosing new health and safety protocols but also Introduced rebooking and cancellation policies.
Much of the changes are here to stay.
“Airlines and hotels still offer flexible booking options,” said travel advisor Mike Rubinstein, owner and director of UprouteMe in Los Angeles. “And even though airfares aren’t as incredibly cheap as they were a few months ago, there are still some great airfare deals – and fantastic hotel rates, too.”
To capitalize on this zeitgeist and help travelers secure some of these great hotel rates, the travel app Hopper launched its new “Hotel Price Freeze” feature on Wednesday. This feature allows users to secure the best rate at a specific hotel for up to 60 days.
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If the nightly rate increases during the freeze window, Hopper will cover up to $ 100 of the total cost of living to keep the rate lower. When prices go down, users pay the new lower tariff.
“Hotels don’t actually take the risk, Hopper takes it,” says Anwesha Bhattacharjee, Head of Hotel Fintech at Hopper. “When you get on Hopper, we guarantee you the price.”
Users make a deposit that is determined by an algorithm that takes into account the length of travel and the likelihood of price changes in a given market, Bhattacharjee said.
When you are ready to book your room at the frozen price, your deposit will be added to the booking price. (Despite the price freeze, an actual room is only then reserved.) If you change hotel, the block and the deposit can be transferred to a new booking.
Hopper estimates that on a typical two to three night booking, Price Freeze users will save an average of $ 17 per night and $ 43 per stay. “But we’ve seen customers save $ 100 or in the high 80s,” she noted.
According to Hopper, based in Boston and Montreal, which has seen hotel searches increase by 130% since early 2021 and up 7% weekly, it looks like accommodation prices will only keep rising.
Thanks to the surge in demand for seasonal and domestic travel, room rates are expected to rise 17% to $ 165 nationwide by early July, Hopper said. “Users will always end up saving money by using Price Freeze,” said Bhattacharjee.
Price locks for online airfares have been in place for a number of years.
“When we entered the pandemic, we found that many of our customers were very afraid of not being able to commit to travel because they didn’t know which locations were going to close or open, or what the quarantine rules would be,” noted Bhattacharjee.
“A 14 or 21 day freeze wasn’t what they were looking for, so we offered a longer price freeze duration for just that,” she added. “We knew that our customers had the feeling that they wanted to travel, but couldn’t make up their minds yet and still needed some time.”
Price Freeze is especially helpful for large groups and families planning to travel together when multiple OKs are required on prices before committing to a hotel stay, Bhattacharjee said.
“That need is not going to go away,” pandemic or no pandemic, she stated. “Many of our customers also like the option to defer payment,” a side benefit of the Price Freeze functionality.
Hopper says it’s the largest North American travel app, with more than 50 million downloads and $ 1.2 billion in travel and travel product sales last year from 2 million hotels, 300 airlines, and a selection of rental car partners.
Hopper is next developing features that will allow users to choose the bed configurations (e.g. double bed, queen, king) they want while freezing the rate, Bhattacharjee said. Price Freeze for Hotels is available for both the iOS and Android versions of Hopper and wherever the app runs.