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Room booking app targeted at Millennials

29 June 2015
29 Jun 2015 -
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Ninety percent of people making hotel reservations on a mobile phone book a room within four days of their stay. And most early adopters of mobile applications are young.

That’s according to Michael Reichartz, a former Expedia employee who co-founded Las Vegas-based Roomlia, an app that allows users to book short-term hotel stays at the last minute.

“It’s a very fluid transition for someone who is much younger to go from desktop to mobile,” Reichartz said from the company’s office two blocks from the strip. “That plays really nicely to travel bookings on these devices.”

The app lets users book up to seven days in advance for a maximum stay of five nights. For now the app is in 76 cities, from sprawling metropolises like Los Angeles to more offbeat destinations like Williamsburg, Va., known for its colonial reenactments. It’s expected to hit 100 cities by the end of the year.

They’re hardly the only mobile booking app out there. But Reichartz and fellow co-founder Jim Ferguson — also an Expedia alum — think their extensive knowledge of the hotel industry gives them a leg up.

“One of the problems that you see from some of these larger travel companies is that ground-up they were built for desktop. And it’s always hard to take legacy code to a new technology,” Reichartz said. “For us, it was ground-up mobile.”

They also think their app is much faster and easier to use than most. With the Roomlia interface, users who have already input their credit card information can book a room in about 30 seconds with just two clicks.

Plus, Roomlia doesn’t require customers to pay until they arrive at the hotel. “That might sound like a small difference, but that’s meaningful to the customer,” Reichartz said. “You get to pay where you’re sleeping.”

With a sales staff scattered throughout the country, Roomlia has developed direct partnerships with a wide range of hotels. That’s where the co-founders think one of their most innovative features comes in.

By tracking users’ progress through the app, Roomlia allows hotels to target exclusive discounts to customers who considered staying at a comparable property.

Reichartz demonstrated that with a real time Las Vegas example. When he left the booking page for New York-New York, the app offered an exclusive, time-sensitive promo for the Westgate with a 50 percent discount, a deal he said a user wouldn’t find on other mobile or desktop services.

“That hotel is getting some great brand recognition in the marketplace and we are putting them front and center in front of someone who looked at a competing property,” Reichartz said.

That Westgate rate fell from $40 to $23.

The app has been downloaded a few hundreds of thousands of times, they said, so it has yet to go viral, but roomlia’s day-to-day operations are not necessarily their primary focus right now.

“It’s early days for us,” Reichartz said. “A lot of what we’ve been doing is building the infrastructure to scale.”

On screens outside the Roomlia space in the Remark Media office, which owns the company and a collection of other start-ups targeted at the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, two monitors allow the team to track Roomlia’s real-time data. Unlike desktop services, Roomlia can monitor where users are booking from and at what hour of the day, which the app then shares with hotel partners.

“If we can help them understand the data better, then they’ll sell on our app even better,” Ferguson said.

Reichartz has lived in Las Vegas for almost 30 years. Ferguson is going on four years. Before the launch, the two founders debated whether to stay in Las Vegas or move out to a more established tech market like San Francisco. But on their one-year anniversary this week, they said they’re satisfied with their decision to start up here.

“That is something we are really proud of — that we can say everything has organically started here in Vegas,” Reichartz said. “That’s something that really matters to us a lot.”

Source: Las Vegas Sun