Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 13.
Hotels are improving their apps for travelers, especially for road warriors who are seeking speed and the ability to narrow down their options as their travel plans can change rapidly.
The branded apps produced by major hotel companies such as IHG, Marriott, Hilton, Accor and Starwood are becoming more personalized than the mainstream travel agency booking apps such as Orbitz or Trivago, said Andy Abramson, CEO Comunicano, a Del Mar, Calif.-based marketing communications company, who has traveled on average 200 days a year for the past 12 years.
"Those offer either best rates or best benefits," he said.
As a road warrior who has stayed at various hotels during the past decade, Abramson often prefers the apps run by the hotels themselves, because "they know what I like and what I need," he said.
Another hidden bonus he has discovered by booking through the brand's app is because it "often carries more benefits that are not always stated," Abramson said. "The most important and beneficial one is being able to cancel after the cut off time, which is often granted if you're a loyal traveler or at the very least, property loyal."
Not all business travelers are focused on the points and perks and prioritize price when choosing a hotel. Hotel Tonight, which offers discounts for rooms which have not been sold, ranging from this week to even next week, is a company that is "great" for its prices, he said.
Here are five hotel apps which are popular among travelers:
As a road warrior, Michel Volpatt, a tech pr guy who lives in San Francisco but travels back and forth to New York twice a month, said San Francisco-bas ed Hotel Tonight is the "only travel app that I use aside from the American Airlines app for my air travel to find places to stay while I am in NYC," he said.
Since he always waits until the last minute to choose a hotel, he winds up selecting one when I am either getting onto the plane at SFO or off at JFK, Volpatt said.
"Half of my time is spent in NYC, and to help curb my costs I usually hotel hop a few nights a week," he said. "I have found some amazing hotels. It is my favorite app ever."
Not all travelers want to stay in hotels, and for those who are tired of the same, bland style and are eschewing points, Booking.com, an Amsterdam-based hotel company owned by Priceline, offers over one million hotels, homes and apartments globally. Another advantage is that the app provides paperless check-in and offline maps, which helps save the battery life on your smartphone.
"Users are also able to filter their results quickly based on budget, travel purpose, location, review score, on-site facilities and even cancellation policy," said Todd Dunlap, managing director of Americas at Booking.com. "The free app is available on IOS and Android and is also compatible with Apple Watch."
Some travelers want apps which combine their hotel stay with transportation options and Hotwire, a San Francisco-based discount travel website, now has additional features to help those traveling on business and are faced with impromptu trips resulting in last-minute bookings. The app now features booking after midnight or renting a car only one way.
Greater transparency on the type of the beds in the rooms is also available if you are traveling with a friend or family member and want to ensure both of you are not sharing the same queen bed.
More travelers are opting to book from their smartphones and nearly half of their hotel transactions in the first quarter of this year came from a mobile device, said Henrik Kjellberg, president of Hotwire.
"There is a reason we are seeing our strongest growth on mobile devices. Most of our consumers book a spontaneous trip at the last minute and our app can offer up to 60% off hotels at the last minute," he said.
Ibotta is a Denver-based mobile technology company which has an app that offers consumers cash back on purchases with retailers via PayPal, Venmo or a gift card. One of the options includes using either the HotelTonight or Hotels.com app and travelers receive the discount immediately through either hotel app.
"This means Ibotta users can earn cash back in addition to the discount prices they find on our partner apps," said CEO Bryan Leach. "This seamless experience provides the most rewarding way to book a hotel on your phone."
When finding an economical hotel is not the priority, travelers can look for deals on Secret Escapes, a London-based luxury travel flash deal app and booking site, which lists deals for 70% off. The company runs sales of four and five-star hotels and vacations which are selected by travel experts for weekend trips to extended getaways.
"Capitalizing on the lack of transparency and quality in the travel flash deals space, we work as advocates for both consumers and hotel managers, negotiating quality deals at the best price," said Rob Day, general manager for Secret Escapes North America. "Our rates are exclusive to you and cannot be beaten while the sale is live, leaving you safe in the knowledge that you don't need to shop around once you've found your perfect getaway."