By Allison Davis
Need a room? A trove of new hotel-booking apps makes reservations a breeze. These smartphone-specific programs allow you to book in real time and often include incentives for reserving on the fly. A recent, informal, TripAdvisor survey found that 60% of Americans now have travel apps on their smart phones and about 38% use them to book travel.
Since most of these tech-savvy travelers are looking for single night stays, the apps offer discounts and incentives for filling rooms that would have otherwise gone unused. In fact, hoteliers like the InterContinental Hotel Group have seen big returns on the simple investment in mobile technology—in under a year, IHG’s mobile booking profits rocketed to $10 million a month from $1 million a month. With an array of apps available for everyone from Motel 6 to the Four Seasons, we narrowed down our top five picks. An added bonus: They’re all free.
What is it: An easy-to-use app (pictured above) that favors the spontaneous: last-minute hotel bookings via smartphone in 21 cities and counting.
Why you want it: If you want same-day booking in a brand-name hotel, in a place like Las Vegas, San Francisco, or New York—at up to 70% off—this is the app for you.
What else: While most are for one night, some hotels allow stays up to 5 nights at discounted rates. Rooms go on-sale every day at noon.
Priceline Hotel & Car Negotiator
What is it: Based on the popular website, users can find and bid on hotel rooms via this app (pictured right).
Why you want it: You can set your own price based on an area and hotel’s star category, then find out instantly whether the bid was accepted. Or, for those who hate to haggle, book a room directly at a discount up to 50%.
What else: Now with a rental car service, you can book a last-minute car rental at up to 40% off. This service also offers instant bid acceptance results.
What is it: Search for and book a room in any of the 45 Omni hotels in the United States.
Why you want it: Quick, real-time reservations and GPS capability to find an Omni property near you, as well as mobile check in.
What else: The app offers special discounts for mobile users only (a recent discount featured 40% off for one night in any Omni hotel suite).
Choice Hotels Locator
What is it: Hotel booking for 5,800 hotels worldwide, including road-trip friendly properties like Sleep Inn, Comfort Suites, and EconoLodge.
Why you want it: Easy booking experience and GPS interface that helps you find an affordable, available room closest to you.
What else: No extra discounts, but for those on the Choice Hotel loyalty plan, it’s seamlessly integrated into the application for special offers.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
What is it: Booking for each of the 7 major brands, including: InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express.
Why you want it: Easy same-day bookings at hotel mainstays, ability to change or cancel reservations, and to use reward points if enrolled in the Priority Club Rewards.
What else: Not many bonuses, but it does offer alerts for special discounts.