HotelQuickly, the Hong Kong-based last-minute accommodation booking app is launching in Australia, opening offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
After expanding through Asia the mobile-only booking app is now eyeing Australia as a key market, a strategy which is being driven by the high saturation of smartphone users in the country, COO Christian Mischler said.
“The Australian market offers great potential for an application like HotelQuickly, as the travel pattern in Australia has been shifting from pre-booking trips and holidays towards last-minute bookings for spontaneous holidays. Australians also face cost pressures, at work and at leisure, and constantly seek better value that we can offer,” he said.
“But to offer a superior product, we also need to fully understand our customers and the different cultures we operate in. What works in Hong Kong may not work in Australia, so we continuously evolve and adapt HotelQuickly for each market we operate in.”
The online hotel market is becoming increasingly crowded with Skyscanner, Wotif and Expedia all vying for Australian business.
“In Australia and Asia it’s still a very fragmented market,” Mischler said, adding as a mobile play “HotelQuickly is not here to replace any of these online travel agents… We are of course competing but we’re not competing all the way.”
Launching the app in March 2013, HotelQuickly has secured investment from former Singtel and Singapore Airlines chairman Koh Boon Hwee who led a $AU1.3 million angel funding round. Japanese venture capital firm GREE also led the company’s recent $AU5.2 million series A funding round.
The m-commerce play is attempting to capture travelers on the go by enabling booking with just a few taps. Using geographical data and analytics it also pulls together some of the best deals by location each day.
“Our application acts like a private sales channel for hotels to sell off distressed inventory and bring up their occupancy. Hotels are happy to grant big discounts for these rooms, that would otherwise go unsold. This creates a win-win situation for hotels and guests: hotels get additional revenue, guests get fantastic deals at great hotels,” Mischler said.
The company estimates it currently has about 50,000 Australian users and hopes by the end of 2015 that number will grow to 500,000. It is also looking to build out its network of more than 750 3-5 star hotels to more than 1,000.