The online travel space has been all abuzz thanks to Priceline’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Kayak last week, representing one of the largest deals the space has seen to date. In part, Priceline’s eagerness to scoop up its rival was due to the recent growth of Kayak’s booking path business, particularly in hotels, with the acquisition enabling Kayak to push more broadly into hotel booking, both at home and internationally.
While the online (and social) travel space has been contracting a bit after last year’s barrage of new entrants, one of the few young companies that has been able to maintain not only a strong foothold but continuing growth has been social trip planner, Gogobot. Jumping from one million registered users in May to its current 2.5 million+ (and seeing 800 percent growth in its user base in 2012), the startup has continued iterating on its mobile product and focusing on what has traditionally been its strong suit: Quality photos.
Today, however, the company is entering somewhat new territory as it begins to expand its scope into adjacent territories, starting with hotels. Since launching in 2010, Gogobot has enabled travelers to find great hotels based on what’s popular in their networks; however, with its new features, Gogobot is fine-tuning its search capability by launching realtime pricing tools through a partnership with DealAngel, a hotel comparison startup.
The new functionality essentially allows users to cut through the noise and find some transparency in hotel pricing while researching a trip. With its DealAngel integration, users can now view a color-coded calendar through which they can find the cheapest dates based on average hotel prices and avoid dates when trade shows or other events drive up pricing, for example. On top of that, the realtime pricing and availability data enables Gogobot users to plug in dates to see actual prices of hotels on the dates they’re traveling and book with a single click, without being subject to those annoying pop-up windows endemic to other review sites.
The DealAngel integration also allows users to see how much they’d save by booking on a particular date against actual hotel prices, ranking deals from poor to excellent, again, something that’s unusual to these pricing mechanism, which tend to only provide fair-market prices. For example, if a hotel temporarily drops its price by $100/night, DealAngel’s ranking will highlight that deal for the user, giving them context, with the idea being that they can then make a more informed choice.