Travel app gives picky vacationers a 60-day freeze on hotel rates

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Two views of the new price freeze feature in the Hopper app, showing (left) a step in the research process and (right) a list of active freezes.

Hopper

After a year of confinement and limited travel, Americans want flexibility and freedom when planning their trips.

They got used to it during the coronavirus pandemic, as travel suppliers rushed to adjust to both the market and medical realities in the spring and summer of last year by not only introducing new health and safety protocols, as well as more flexible reservation change and cancellation policies.

Most of the changes are here to stay.

“Airlines and hotels, many of them still offer flexible booking options,” said travel consultant Mike Rubinstein, owner and director of UprouteMe in Los Angeles. “And while airline tickets aren’t as incredibly cheap as they were a few months ago, there are still some great deals on flights – and fantastic hotel rates, too.”

To capitalize on this zeitgeist while helping travelers lock in some of those great hotel prices, the Hopper travel app rolled out its new “Price Freeze for Hotels” feature on Wednesday. The feature allows users to lock in the best rate at a specific hotel for up to 60 days.

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If the nightly rate increases during the freeze period, Hopper will cover up to $ 100 of the total cost of the stay to help keep the rate lower. If prices drop, users pay the new lower rate.

“Hotels don’t really take the risk; Hopper guarantees it,” said Anwesha Bhattacharjee, hotel technology manager at Hopper. “When you get to Hopper, we guarantee the price.”

Users make a deposit 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 they are ready to reserve their room at the rate they have frozen, their deposit is credited to the price of the reservation. (An actual room is not reserved until they do so, despite the rate freeze.) If they want to change hotels, the freeze and deposit are transferable to a new reservation.

Hopper estimates that for a typical two- to three-night reservation, Price Freeze users save an average of $ 17 per night and $ 43 per stay. “But we’ve seen customers save $ 100, or in the $ 80 range,” she noted.

Accommodation rates appear to continue to rise, according to Boston and Montreal-based Hopper, who has seen a 130% jump in hotel searches since the start of 2021, increasing 7% per week.

Thanks to leaps in demand for seasonal and domestic travel, nightly fares are likely to rise 17%, to an average of $ 165 nationally, by early July, Hopper said. “Users will always end up saving money by using Price Freeze,” Bhattacharjee said.

Price freezes for online airline tickets have been around for a number of years.

“As we entered the pandemic, we realized that many of our customers felt a lot of anxiety about not being able to commit to travel because they didn’t know which locations would close or open, nor what the quarantine rules would be. be, ”noted Bhattacharjee.

“A 14 or 21 day freeze was not what they were looking for, so we started offering a longer price freeze period precisely for that,” she added. “We knew our customers wanted to travel but couldn’t make up their minds yet and needed more time.”

The price freeze is especially useful for large groups and families planning to travel together, when several OKs are required on fares before committing to a hotel stay, Bhattacharjee said.

“This need is not going to go away,” pandemic or no pandemic, she noted. “Many of our customers also like the ability to defer payment,” a side benefit of the price freeze feature.

Hopper Says It’s The Largest Travel App In North America, With Over 50 Million Downloads And $ 1.2 Billion In Travel And Travel-Related Product Sales During The Year sold with 2 million hotels, 300 airlines and a selection of car rental partners.

Hopper then develops a feature that will allow users to select whatever bed configurations they want (eg, double, queen, king) when freezing rates, Bhattacharjee said. The price freeze for hotels is available on the iOS and Android versions of Hopper and wherever the app works.

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