AutoSlash team launches HotelSlash membership platform for discounted hotel rooms

The creators of a popular discount car rental booking platform are taking a crack at doing something similar with hotels — a members-only version, that is.

The AutoSlash team Wednesday morning debuted HotelSlash, a hotel booking platform that aims to provide users with the cheapest possible rate on a hotel room. The $29.95-per-year platform will offer its members “deeply discounted” rates at more than 1 million global hotels and offer the ability to prepay or pay at the time of check-in.

Online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline often attract travelers by offering discounted rates relative to booking directly with a hotel company like Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt — but the distinctive feature of HotelSlash is that it will continue to monitor prices and will alert customers if they should rebook a room because rates dropped after booking. Most OTAs offer this kind of price monitoring only on rates prior to making a reservation.

“There’s no denying that prices are rising every day. You see it in airfares, you see it in car rentals, and you certainly see it in hotels,” Jonathan Weinberg, co-founder and CEO of AutoSlash and HotelSlash, told TPG this week ahead of the launch. “Getting the best deal today doesn’t mean you’ll have the best deal tomorrow or next week or, frankly, the day before you check in to the hotel. We felt like there was a huge opportunity here that was being missed.”

How HotelSlash works

The HotelSlash algorithm will monitor for cheaper rates on the exact room booked as well as upgrade opportunities and added amenities. A customer who booked an entry-level room without breakfast included might eventually get pinged that a nicer room with breakfast included suddenly became available at a more affordable rate. Once you get the notification, you just book at the new rate and cancel your old reservation.

Keep in mind: You would need to have booked a refundable rate in the first place to maximize your savings. You also have to cancel the reservation and rebook yourself instead of HotelSlash offering an automated rebooking feature, so be careful to get the new rate before it jumps.

AutoSlash works in a similar manner by tracking car rental rates after you book and is a TPG favorite for saving money when you need a rental car for a vacation. Similar to the mechanics of AutoSlash, members on HotelSlash will put in a booking request with details on where they’d like to stay and for how long. Members will then get a quote with booking information in a matter of minutes that outlines the exclusive rates found on HotelSlash.

Early users of the HotelSlash platform saved on average 30% off publicly listed hotel rates (factoring in added fees) if they booked roughly one month ahead of their planned check-in, the company claims.

“We want to be known as the good guys in the industry, and part of that is displaying the full pricing upfront — none of this where the listed room rate is $249 and then you get to the checkout page, and you realize that it’s now $350 because of added taxes and fees on top of that,” Weinberg said. “We’re going to tell you what the rate is with taxes and fees right up front, so you can compare apples to apples.”

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The platform has operated in a stealth mode since 2020, and the price savings work in two methods.

A traveler can book through HotelSlash, and the platform will automatically monitor their reservation and notify the customer if rates fall or if an upgrade opportunity arises. But travelers can also book a refundable hotel reservation through any travel booking engine, and HotelSlash will monitor it on their behalf.

Loyalty vs. discounts

It would appear the latter option is the way to go for travelers connected to a loyalty program and who want to earn points from their stay, as hotel companies notably do not extend an ability to earn points when you book via an OTA. But HotelSlash leaders note booking through their platform does offer members exclusively low rates and can provide a different type of value than loyalty perks.

What do you value more: the free breakfast included each morning because you have a high loyalty status, or a significantly lower nightly room night? It’s truly a case of what works best for you, but there are plenty of travelers who don’t want to waste any nights on a hotel that won’t build status with, say, World of Hyatt or Marriott Bonvoy.

“If we end up saving you $250, and you’re giving up like a $29 breakfast, ultimately, you’re coming out way ahead,” Weinberg said. “Are we the perfect product for the traveler who’s got elite status with every hotel brand out there? Maybe not, but I think that those folks still need to stay in independent hotels and boutique hotels that are not chain hotels, and we’ll help them out when they’re staying there.”

There’s always friction between hotel conglomerates and OTAs, as the OTAs sell rooms at lower rates under the guise of filling up hotel rooms the hotel brands themselves weren’t able to sell off their own platforms. The trade-off is the often-limited or nonexistent recognition of loyalty benefits when booking through one of these discounted platforms.

But the economy has a giant question mark over it. Hotel executives were bullish over the last few weeks and reported significantly better-than-expected performance over the first three months of this year. But they also all noted it’s hard to determine how the back half of this year will go amid such an uncertain economic environment.

Turbulent times cause more people to think less about loyalty and more about finding the best hotel rate out there.

That’s the major wind in HotelSlash’s sails.

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