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Stayful Launches First Ever Real-Time Bidding Platform For Independent Boutique Hotel Rooms, Offering A Unique Travel Experience at the Price You Choose

July 20, 2013 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Stayful, a new travel service focused on driving bookings at independent boutique hotels, is launching its private beta in New York and San Francisco.

Stayful is offering a limited number of invites for its early users to discover unique hotels at lower costs and with total price transparency. Through its proprietary bidding system, Stayful finds travelers the best prices at independent hotels that may have otherwise been over their budgets, while efficiently filling the boutique hotel’s unsold inventory.

Stayful recently received $2.4 million in funding led by Canaan Partners to solve these persistent Banner 250x250pxproblems for both independent hotels and frustrated travelers. The independent boutique hotel industry loses $13.9 billion in revenue each year due to unsold rooms. Previously, consumers didn’t have a way of discovering these rooms or accessing them at a below-market price. Current online travel agencies offer quick booking but often lead consumers towards reservations at generic chain hotels that they feature. Online travel agencies also automatically book at predetermined published prices rather than at the specific price chosen by the traveler.

At Stayful, travelers search the hotels that have available rooms within the next 30 days and make a bid of what they would like to pay. Stayful recommends bid prices that are often below the going market rate, but still likely for the hotel to accept. Once a potential customer offers a bid to a specific hotel, the hotel is invited to accept that bid or counteroffer, keeping the price low yet fair for both sides of the booking process. If the hotel is busy, it may decline the offer and the customer can still book at the published price.

“This has been a missing piece in the online travel industry,” said Stayful co-founder and CEO Cheryl Rosner. “There are thousands of independent boutique hotels around the world and they’ve struggled to find new customers for their unsold inventory. On the other side, travelers often don’t realize that they aren’t getting the best prices through existing sites. With Stayful, they’ll choose their own unique hotel experience and choose exactly the price they want to pay.”

The Stayful model is community driven; travelers can search for boutique hotels that are not already part of the Stayful network. Once they place a bid, that hotel is invited to join Stayful and gain greater access to a new base of consumers specifically interested in the independent boutique hotel experience. A sampling of Stayful’s founding hotel partners can be found on the Stayful homepage.

“Stayful is going to change how thousands of hotels like ours do business and attract new customers,” said Steven Goldman, Vice President of Hotel Operations at Amsterdam Hospitality. “Lost revenue from unsold inventory has always been a nagging issue for independent and boutique hotels, and it is encouraging that there is now a real solution that’s better suited to our customers and hotels. Stayful not only fixes the booking problem at a low cost, but brings us loyal, repeat customers.”

Stayful comes from travel industry veterans: co-founder and CEO Cheryl Rosner was president of Expedia Corporate Travel and, and co-founder Shariq Minhas led engineering at Jigsaw in addition to travel sites Expedia and Hotwire. Advisors include Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre, the second largest boutique hotel group in the U.S., and Room 77 CEO Drew Patterson, previously the founder and CEO of Jetsetter and part of KAYAK’s founding team.

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