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HotelTonight incentivizes mobile photo sharing via app update

May 9, 2013

HotelTonight is turning to its users to help create photo content for its iPhone application through a new feature that also awards consumers company credit for snapping pictures of their hotel stays.

The Snap Your Stay feature is being rolled out initially to HotelTonight’s iPhone app with plans to expand to the Android and iPad versions soon. HotelTonight has also added a price guarantee feature to its iPhone app.

“With this feature, we are looking to reinvent the hotel review, just as we reinvented the hotel booking experience in a mobile environment,” said Jamie Davidson, vice president of product at HotelTonight, San Francisco.

“It’s clear that people are excited about sharing information to help other travelers make informed decisions about where to stay, as demonstrated by the popularity of travel review channels,” he said.

“We already see about one-third of all HotelTonight bookers review their hotel after a booking via the thumbs up/down rating and expect a similar or greater response rate since this new feature is just as easy and fun.”

Mobile capture
The new photo feature in HotelTonight’s iPhone app lets consumers snap pictures of their hotel stays during their trips.

After a consumer makes a booking, a call-to-action prompts users to take a series of photos of their hotel.

Photos are bundled to include a picture of the hotel bed, bathroom, lobby and the room’s view. Consumers are asked to include one additional photo of their choice that shows something cool in their hotel.

The feature includes editing and filtering tools to let consumers customize their photos.

Additionally, consumers can share the images via Facebook and Twitter.

The user-created photos will then appear within the Info tab of a hotel’s profile, which also includes additional information about the hotel.

There is also a new Photos tab that aggregates popular photos from Hotel Tonight bookers across all of HotelTonight’s destinations.

To help promote the app, HotelTonight will award bookers who upload a photo set $5 in credits. If a photo makes it into the Photo tab, the company will award bookers $10 in credits.

The company also has plans to reward its top photographers with credits and will publish high-quality photo sets as a digital coffee table book.

Mobile photo sharing is gaining steam with marketers for contests and sweepstakes, but what is interesting about HotelTonight’s use of the feature is that the user-created photos will live as permanent content within the company’s app.

Mobile-only guarantee
HotelTonight has also launched a feature called HT Price Guarantee. Consumers who find a different price at a hotel within HotelTonight’s app can receive credits equal to the price difference.

HotelTonight claims that its app has been downloaded more than five million times and is available in 12 countries and 100 destinations.

Most recently, the company launched an Android app designed specifically for tablets to grow its mobile presence (see story).

Additionally, the company updated its app late last year with new features that convert currencies and translate content (see story).

“For travelers, photos from other HotelTonight bookers can help them decide which hotel is right for them without having to read through pages of reviews – something that would be cumbersome on a mobile device and time-consuming for a last-minute booking,” Mr. Davidson said.

“We work with only the best hotel partners and fully expect that the photography will enhance our booking experience with additional transparency,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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