Exclusive interview with Sam Shank from HotelTonight , a mobile hotel booking app. Sam will be coming to the Web Summit so you can catch up with him in person there. Tweet him @ to check his availability.
Hi, who are you, what’s your background?
I’m Sam Shank (@samshank), Co-founder and CEO of HotelTonight, the on-demand mobile hotel booking app. I’m a travel-obsessed serial entrepreneur. I founded and was CEO of DealBase a travel deals search engine, and was CEO of TravelPost, a hotel reviews site. SideStep acquired TravelPost and I stayed on as VP of business development until its fortunate acquisition by Kayak. I also worked in comparison shopping at Excite, CNET and NexTag. I attended the University of Virginia and received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Where you are from?
I’m from Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
Why are you planning to come to the Summit / what do you hope to get out of it?
I am just excited to be invited back again! I look forward to the Summit every year because it provides me with an opportunity to get a glimpse of the latest in the tech scene, particularly in Europe. Each year the amazing quality of the panels and the great people I get to meet make the trip to Dublin worth it. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.
Is there anyone in particular you’d really like to meet at the Summit?
I love walking through the start-up demo areas and meeting the next great European tech companies.
What are you working on?
HotelTonight’s mission is to create the world’s dominant and most loved hotel booking service and to make sure that anyone, anywhere can book their accommodation using HotelTonight. We’re only three and a half years old and have a lot more to accomplish, but It’s great to know that we are well on our way.
What is awesome about it?
In the two years since expanding to Europe, we’ve grown our presence to 28 countries around the world. It is clear that both our customers and our hotel partners love the service we are providing so we will continue to push forward aggressively with our international expansion until we are ubiquitous. We recently enlarged our offer to include a 7 day booking window in order to encourage even more people to plan less and live more. With our expanded booking window, our customers continue to find everything they’ve come to love about HotelTonight, sleek design, 10-second bookings, incredible customer support and amazing last-minute discounts at top hotels that are personally vetted and approved by the HotelTonight team.
Where do you hope to be in 3 – 5 year’s time?
The seamless travel experience has been an industry goal for years, and at HotelTonight we are well placed to achieve this goal. We recently debuted our Express Check In function which allows you to check into the hotel using the app and we demoed Keyless Entry which will allow our users to open their hotel rooms using their devices. If you were building an OTA from scratch right now, you wouldn’t end up with a website that gave you thousands of options, but instead with an app that gives you a few of the right options for you. Look to HotelTonight to continue to do just this in the years to come!
As a founder, how is it trying to develop and scale a project and product?
Early on, it was incredibly hard to get traction, as we were only three founders competing against some of the largest companies online. But we stayed focused and listened to our customers and delivered value every day. As we’ve scaled, we’ve grown an amazing team to continue to build HotelTonight. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced to be involved with this great team, see them take the vision of HT and turn it into a product that is admired and used by millions of people around the world.
Do you have any good workout rounds for power outages or other tech restraints?
I travel with an external battery pack and a charger – at conferences I carry both with me, and during meals always request a table near a wall with a plug. You can also often tip a bartender to charge your phone for you – a few euros up front will ensure it’s taken care of (for a few euros in return.)
Thanks for taking the time to talk to Irish Tech News Sam. We know you will be really busy, but hopefully we’ll catch up with you at the Summit.