Expedia Spin-Off Targets Unmanaged Travelers With Post-Booking Hotel Rate Scrutiny

A new hotel booking tool launched last month monitors rates after reservations are made and rebooks should they drop. initially was developed as part of Expedia but late last year was spun off alongside TripAdvisor. The booking site accesses rates through Expedia's channels, and after a trip is booked, it watches Expedia's rates at that property for those dates and rebooks at a lower rate if one becomes available, said George Hobica, CEO of sister site AirfareWatchdog. If a traveler had paid for the entire hotel stay in advance, the difference in rate is refunded to the credit card.

"Even if one night has gone down in price, they send you an alert and book at the lower price," Hobica said. "A lot of people book these refundable but prepaid rates, simply because you've gotten to see a lot of choice at one glance, so this is really great for travelers who are price-sensitive and not brand-loyal."

Tingo also lists nonrefundable rates although, naturally, those cannot be rebooked, he said.

Tingo is the latest hotel booking site that perpetually shops for better deals. BackBid, which launched late last year, enters completed bookings into its database, allowing member hotels to entice the traveler with better rates or amenities.

While Tingo is somewhat similar to rate-guarantee programs offered by online travel agencies__Orbitz Price Assurance, for example__Hobica said the difference is that those guarantees issue refunds only if another traveler books the same reservation at a lower price, not simply if the price goes down.

Hobica said Tingo targets unmanaged business travelers, but he also could see travelers in managed programs using it to try to best corporate rates.

"When we were a part of Expedia, we were encouraged to use Egencia, but when I found lower rates on other avenues, I would get away with it," he said. "You have to explain why you did it, but if you're saving a lot of money using another method, they still approved your expense report."

Following Tingo's spin-off from Expedia, Hobica said there have been no discussions on whether to expand content outside of Expedia's portfolio. Future growth will depend on how quickly travelers adopt the new technology.

"Depending on how it takes off, there's lots of things it could do," Hobica said. "We could even develop a loyalty program ourselves."