Hopper is adding another fintech product to its lineup with the launch of price freeze for hotel bookings.
It's a logical next step considering in March CEO Fred Lalonde said its existing fintech offerings -- such as flight price freeze, flight delay protection and refundable bookings for air and hotels -- account for about two-thirds of the company's revenue and increase the average Hopper user's spend by about 15%.
Hopper's head hotel of fintech, Anwesha Bhattacharjee, said hotel price freeze is meant alleviate the uncertainty travelers may be feeling due to Covid.
"Hotels have traditionally been an afterthought, but lately hotels have not been an afterthought as people are actually taking road trips and they need hotel stays. And they are not sure what the right price point is for these hotels and when to book. So when they see a prediction and we tell them this is a good time to buy or freeze, they actually take that advice and they want to commit to the price," Bhattacharjee said.
"The other thing we see to is our customers are a lot more value conscious -- they like to be very certain before they make a commitment... Price freeze helps them do that... It kind of relieves that anxiety of what if this price goes away... it helps them lock down the price and then make the decision instead of the other way around and losing a good price."
Price freeze is available for all hotels on the platform and the cost is based on an algorithm that analyzes data to predict when prices for that specific booking may go up or down. Users can freeze the best available rate at a hotel for up to 60 days.
If the price increases during that period, Hopper will cover up to $100 of the difference, and if the price decreases the user pays the lower price. If a booking is made, the price freeze deposit is credited to the booking price. If the user decides not to book that hotel, the price freeze deposit can be transferred to another booking made within that 60-day window. But if no action is taken within 60 days, the user forfeits the deposit.
And because the freeze is guaranteeing a rate but not a specific room, Bhattacharjee acknowledged there is the chance the hotel could be sold out when the customer is ready to book.
In that case, if the traveler did not want to transfer the deposit to another property, Hopper would issue a refund. In the future, she said Hopper will offer the option to freeze the best rate for a specific room type.
Hopper has been testing the product for more than six months and has found for the average two- to three-night stay customers save on average $43 per stay or $17 per night. Bhattacharjee said the company expects about one in 10 users will choose to use the price freeze option.