Here’s why Airbnb’s 2019 acquisition of HotelTonight could be key to its post-pandemic playbook


  • Launched in January 2011, HotelTonight looked to popularize a part of the travel and leisure sector that its founders felt had been overlooked: last-minute and same-day bookings.
  • The company quickly gained traction as it leaned into its mobile-first experience that resonated well with a younger, more cost-conscious demographic.
  • Ultimately Airbnb acquired HotelTonight on its road to an IPO in March 2019 in a deal reported to be worth more than $400 million.

Like many mobile-first, on-demand service-based companies started in the early 2010s, HotelTonight saw similarities with two of the biggest disruptors in that category.

“That’s how the world is moving: with Uber, you push a button and get a car; with GrubHub, you push a button and you get food,” HotelTonight CEO and co-founder Sam Shank said during a June 2013 appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“With us, you push a button, and you get a place to stay,” he said. “We’re the app for on-demand shelter.”

Launched in January 2011, HotelTonight looked to popularize a part of the travel and leisure sector that its founders felt had been overlooked: last-minute and same-day bookings.

“The idea from the start was all about trying to bring the idea to the mainstream that spontaneous travel is just more fun and rewarding,” Jared Simon, the former COO and co-founder of HotelTonight, said in a recent interview. “At the outset, that was not a concept that was mainstream in the least, and we got a lot of pushback about the notion.”

Read the full article at cnbc.com

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