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Reuters/Leonhard Foeger
No more, no less.
ROOM RATE REVOLUTION

A new app promises to save early birds from overpaying for hotel rooms

By Rosie Spinks

It’s no secret that the world of online booking has revolutionized how travelers search for and book hotels. However, while travelers certainly benefit from the multitude of platforms offering competitive room rates, the practice comes with the risk of pre-booking a room and then finding the price has dropped closer to your stay.

Whether you’re booking direct via a hotel’s website or through an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Booking.com, there are a multitude of reasons why room rates fluctuate as your check-in day nears. While many hotels will honor a price drop if you bring it to their attention, the onus is still on you to constantly monitor for price fluctuations. This is labor intensive—and undermines the ease of online booking in the first place.

That’s why a new feature from the startup called Service is a potential game-changer for price-conscious travelers. Since it was founded in 2015, Service has helped travelers get compensation for delayed and disrupted flights. To do this, Service connects to the user’s email inbox, scans for past flight itineraries that might qualify for a refund, and then asks for permission to file a claim on the user’s behalf (they take a commission on any successful claim). Today, the app is announcing the same service, but applied to the world of hotel bookings.

Since Service has automated this price-scanning process, users don’t have to wait for a price discrepancy to arise. Once enabled, Service uses its software to detect any price drops post-booking, and right up to the moment of check-in. If it finds a price drop on the site you booked from, it automatically re-books you in the same room at the cheaper rate. At launch, the app will cover reservations made directly via a hotel’s website, but will expand to OTA bookings (e.g. Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Trivago, Priceline, etc.) very shortly after launch. To be eligible, a booking must not be prepaid, so watch out for bookings that require payment up front.

CEO and Founder of Service, Michael Schneider, told Quartzy that the new feature hopes to make the ethos of “proactive customer care” more prominent in the travel industry. “I think anytime a business sets a price and then just hopes that no one re-checks the price is a poor business practice. It may be profitable, but it’s not good for building trust,” Schneider said. “I believe the future of customer service is proactive customer care, where consumers are treated fairly, without them having to do anything. It will build a whole new level of loyalty and trust for businesses that embrace this way of thinking.”

Unless you enjoy scanning OTA and hotel websites up until the day of your check-in, Services’s new feature seems worth a shot.