WBuy the cheapest holiday? For many years, internet companies like Booking, Expedia, Groupon, Kayak, Secret Escapes, Holiday Pirates and many more have boasted of offering the best travel deals on the net. Regardless of whether it is flights, hotels or package deals, due to rising energy costs and rapidly rising inflation, price also plays an increasingly important role when booking a vacation.
Austrian startup Midnightdeal has also been active in the German market since last year. The idea behind it: The user decides whether they want to pay the hotelier a suggested spot rate for an overnight stay or if they prefer to make an offer. Specifies the bid amount using the slider. An emoji tells him if the price is reasonable. Anyone who makes a fair bid will see a smiling face. If you show too little, a sad smile will appear. At midnight, the customer receives the prize by email – or not.
The best dogs among the booking platforms offer millions of hotels today. Booking alone has over 28 million accommodation listings on its website in almost every part of the world. On the other hand, Midnightdeal currently lists about 200 hotels in about a dozen countries. why? “We take the boutique hotel approach,” says Midnightdeal founder Lukas Zirker. His company focuses on “affordable luxury” and primarily offers inexpensive four- and five-star hotels.
So far, the show has focused mainly on the Alpine countries as well as Italy and Croatia, that is, the regions that are most easily accessible by car. Recently, the company Zirker also offers hotels in France, Spain, Portugal and Greece. And work is going well. The businessman now sent 25,000 people on trips. Today it handles about 1,000 reservations each month. In his sense, the Austrian sees his finger on the pulse of the times. He is convinced that “the trend towards vacationing with your travel arrangements will continue in the years to come.”
If you choose one of the deals that can be booked immediately, you’ll save up to 20 percent compared to the larger portals. If you bid smart, you even reach 35 percent. But how do low prices happen? If you are looking for deals, you should sign up for the community. The idea of a closed user group is by no means new, but it could be beneficial to the customer in terms of price. Because hotels can often offer more favorable conditions within the community in the short run than the publicly visible rates agreed upon with the large gates.
“Those who stick with the emoji get a 90 percent extra charge,” says Zirker. Not only the client and the hotel owner benefit from such a “deal”, but also the entrepreneur himself, because Zirker receives a commission for each room that is brokered. However, there is a catch: if the customer has to cancel a trip, they will not get any money back. “Cancellations are not automatically included with us,” says the entrepreneur. “But if you appreciate it or book it early, you have the option of getting additional insurance.”
Actually an art project
Zirker’s main focus is on the target group between 20 and 40. His community currently has about 100,000 members. Up to 7000 new units are added every month. And bidding is really fun: you find yourself somewhere between Ebay and poker. However, everyone who makes a bid should be aware that nothing is free at Midnightdeal. Every third bid is accepted only by the hotel owner. And to check if the rates are really cheaper than anywhere else, you can at best make a random check of hotels that can also be booked on other portals. In the end, the customer must decide for himself whether the price is good.
With the “pay as you wish” pricing model, a customer determines how much they pay for a product or service. Usually there is no minimum price. The model stems from the idea of solidarity. In this way, those who can pay more have the opportunity to make up for what others cannot pay. This provides financially constrained people the opportunity to participate in social life in restaurants, cafes, and cultural venues. Various examples from around the world show that it works economically as well. This is also the case at Café Gagarin, a collectively run restaurant in Vienna that has fixed prices for drinks but gives customers discretion when it comes to paying for food.
The interior, somewhat reminiscent of the party vault, is also available for cultural and political events, which also refers to the basic social and political idea of ”pay as you wish” formulas. Essentially an anti-capitalist virtue that shows that things can work differently if you trust your fellow human beings and believe in justice. Andreas Strauss, founder of Dasparkhotel, explains that this works. This is a non-commercial housing project called “Hospitality Apparatus” which is actually an art project as well. Hotels consist of furnished sewage pipes that have been laid in gardens. Dasparkhotel is now represented in three locations in Germany and Austria.