Most would agree that the worst part of traveling is timing the hotel check in. Either you get off a redeye and have to figure out what to do all day while waiting to check in, or you arrive late at night and waste money paying for a room you didn’t get to use all day.
Enter HotelFlex. Part of Y Combinator’s summer 2017 batch, the startup wants to change the way hotels operate so guests can check in and check out at whatever times they want – and pay accordingly.
So if you just need a place to sleep and check in at midnight but leave town the next morning at 7am, you’d pay a lot less for the room than someone checking in at 3pm and out at noon.
Or you could check in five hours late and leave five hours late and pay the same price as you would for standard check in times.
There are also benefits for hotels – they can generate additional revenue by getting guests to pay a little extra to check in early to rooms that would otherwise be empty during the day.
Right now the pricing is essentially pro-rata. Meaning HotelFlex will take the total price of the hotel and divide it by 20 hours, which is the standard one-day hotel window. They then multiply this hourly rate by how many hours you spend in the hotel. While this simple formula works well enough, the startup wants to tweak this to account for things like variable demand. This way hotels could charge more if a lot of guests want to check in early on particular morning, or tempt guests to extend their checkout at a discounted rate on a slow weekday.
For now HotelFlex isn’t a booking platform – they just are providing hotels and the property management systems they use with the technology to let guests book rooms with varying check in and check out times.
But HotelFlex’s cofounders, Max Shepherd-Cross, Pete Turnbull and Rich Turnbull explained that eventually the startup wants to evolve into a full-fledged booking platform like Expedia or HotelTonight. Doing this would let them take a cut of the base rate, since right now HotelFlex only charges hotels 15 percent of just the additional revenue they help hotels generate.