Now there are apps and websites that can help you book a hotel room for a short visit, whether for quiet work, a layover or just a nap.
Why pay for an overnight hotel stay when you need a room during the day for only a few hours or even just a few minutes? It’s an idea that is likely to appeal to many consumers, according to a handful of companies that sell hotel rooms for short blocks of time.
By-the-hour hotel rooms aren’t a novel concept. In fact, they have a reputation for being used for illicit reasons, said Sean Hennessy, a hotel consultant and an assistant professor of hospitality at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University. But while these brief rentals are traditionally found at budget hotels, the enterprises today involve higher-end properties and are targeting middle-class to affluent customers for considerably different purposes.
“Now, more than ever before, the hotel industry is focused on trying to generate as much revenue as possible and taking advantage of empty rooms during the day is one way to do that,” Hennessy said.
Layovers and more
The guests who might book these rooms, he said, include travelers with layovers, corporate travelers who need a quiet place to work and don’t have an office in town, and locals who are seeking some downtime during the day and find it more convenient to check into a hotel near where they are rather than go back home.
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Hennessy said that it can often be too logistically challenging for hotels to try sell rooms for small pockets of time on their own, and instead, a growing number of properties are collaborating with companies that can help them.
One example is HotelsbyDay.com, with a presence in more than 60 cities in the United States, including New York City, Chicago and Portland, as well as in London and Paris. The brand works with more than 600 hotels in the three- to five-star categories, and rooms are available to book for a minimum of four hours between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pricing varies by destination, but the chief executive officer, Yannis Moati, said that the national average is $90 for four hours.
Dayuse.com, available for 4,000 hotels in 22 countries, also partners with three- to five-star properties, with a three-hour minimum on reservations.
And now, with the app Recharge, users can book rooms by the minute at luxury properties in New York City and San Francisco.
Recharge started in San Francisco in 2016 and last April in New York City and can be used to book rooms by the minute in about 20 hotels in each destination, at any time of day or night. Many are five-star properties, such as the Surrey and the Pierre in New York City and the Taj Campton Place in San Francisco, and some are in the four-star category. This year, the service will expand to Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami.
The company’s co-founder and CEO, Manny Bamfo, said that he started Recharge because he believed there was a demand for hotel stays in minute-long increments. Using the app, these stays can be booked for immediate visits or up to a day in advance.
Recharge’s customers — more than 30,000 as of November — are mostly locals and include mothers who want a clean place to nurse their babies or pump their breast milk, people seeking a quiet space to take a phone call and those seeking a midday reprieve. “We’ve even had fathers who need to change their child’s diaper and would rather do it in a hotel room than in a coffee shop bathroom,” Bamfo said. “You pay for the amount of time you need and nothing more.”
Hotels benefit, too, Bamfo said: According to the company’s research, a 250-room property can get almost 275-rooms’ worth of revenue in one day from these short stays.
Every hotel listed on Recharge’s app has a service fee, ranging from $30 to $50. The more luxurious the hotel, the higher the fee. After the service fee, per minute prices for the stays range from 50 cents to $2. Pricing for the same property can fluctuate throughout the day, depending on supply and demand, and some hotels may have a minimum charge at certain times of the day.