Technology Entrepreneur | Consumer Experience Advocate | Multi-Industry Innovator
Published May 17, 2017
Back in 2011, the launch of HotelTonight marked the first true attempt at cornering the same-day (and then near-term) hotel booking market. However, it wasn’t until it offered its real-time concierge services that the app experience really began to catch my attention. In fact, it wasn’t even the first app of the sort whose experience really took my breath away.
That accomplishment is reserved for the inimitable and exquisitely tongue-in-cheek, One Night Standard.
If you're unfamiliar, The Standard Hotels are a brand notable for seamlessly fusing hospitality and service design innovation, with a one-of-a-kind personality and a penchant for pushing boundaries. One Night Standard was to serve as the brand's in-house, same-day, mobile reservation app, combatting the offerings of other third party players.
Launched in 2015, The Standard and its leadership had chosen to wade into perilous territory others had avoided. As first-movers in the same-day booking space like the aforementioned HotelTonight (mobile) and Priceline (online) took market share, only The Standard chose to directly give their consumers their unique take on same-day bookings.
The concept was simple: leverage excess capacity (unfilled rooms) by offering them in the afternoon at discounted rates. The catch? There was no middle-man. Consumers get to transact directly with The Standard (removing intermediary costs), all while the expertly designed interface serves as a digital extension of the brand. As hinted by the borderline-irreverent name, the application oozes every bit of classic Standard iconography and visual swagger.
Beyond the visual aesthetic, the responsive design is impeccable. When you miss the last connection out of LaGuardia or have to suddenly extend a business trip in Los Angeles, the app performs flawlessly (two examples pulled from my life).
All of this praise perhaps sits in contrast to the recent news that, as of May 26th, 2017, the One Night Standard app will be officially retired. But it isn't that the two-year experiment hasn't worked...actually, quite the opposite.
One Night Standard is being succeeded by the expansive but similarly-conceptualized One:Night. Launched quietly in September of last year, here's what both industry insiders and the average consumer will be interested in:
- Loyalists to The Standard brand will be relieved that each property in the family remains included. Whether a regular or a first-timer, the app will be worth having for trips to Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City (and presumably, the new King’s Cross property in London this time next year).
- One:Night includes some major expansions. The latest release boasts a bevy of new locations, including Austin, San Francisco, and Chicago, and ultimately adds over 75 of the trendiest, most unique boutique hotels in America.
- The newest version of One:Night takes all of the experience design elements of One Night Standard, and builds on them. Replacing many static images are moving vignettes of each travel destination; a small but evocative touch. The app also employs a hipster concierge, essentially an hour-by-hour experience recommendation system, giving travelers the inside scoop on everything from the right Mezcal to order in Austin, to the best live music venues in Little Havana. It's unquestionably a joy to wander the beautifully constructed pages of text and imagery within One:Night.
But what does this really mean?
In earnest, it’s the first time a true competitor has really launched an attack on the last minute booking models of the aforementioned incumbents. With the retirement of One Night Standard, and the extended and enhanced offering of One:Night, boutique hotel titans and hospitality visionaries André Balazs and Amir Lalvani (who just assumed the helm following André’s departure) have moved from testing a new model, to cementing its expanded and unwavering presence in the industry.
By altering the medium by which this unique corner of the hotel industry engages with consumers, they've unlocked value not just in the form of leveraging excess capacity, but also in terms of marketing, mindshare, and the creative mechanisms for luring new clientele.
The hotel industry – much like retail and banking – is facing a turf war for space and attention on consumer’s app-fatigued smartphones. But the story of The Standard continues to captivate by being uncompromising when it senses an opportunity, even as others scoff.
The engine of The Standard brand is fueled by an unprecedented combination of radical ingenuity, resolute service design, and an unwavering sense of personality and soul. And ultimately, those ingredients have made for some of the most satisfying and innovative hotel consumer experiences of the last 20 years. If those incredible experiences just so happen to come with a discounted price tag, who are we to complain?