Nikki Ekstein
September 26, 2014

The last-minute hotel booking space is getting a little less last-minute, as HotelTonight is unveiling a new feature that lets users book their rooms a full week in advance. The new features, live today, respond to a need to have more flexibility when traveling in certain situations, says CEO Sam Shank, who for the first time talked about demographics beyond the spontaneous weekend traveler when I met with him earlier this week. Business travelers, he pointed out, would especially stand to gain from the new model, which allows you to wait until your schedule is set before deciding which neighborhood (or specific property) might be best suited for a particular trip.

Pricing, for the record, will continue to be at its best when you book a day or two ahead, but Shank promises that the app’s mobile-only platform and low commission model will continue to result in exclusive, low-price-guarantee deals no matter how far ahead you’re buying.

While the seven-day lead time is by far the most radical change that HotelTonight will be rolling out today, we were also impressed by the addition of weather graphs which help you decide where to stay and what to pack. From the moment you enter your search parameters, you’ll now be greeted by a tiny toolbar that displays the forecast over the course of your trip—cleverly, you’ll also see a dedicated panel of hotel suggestions, called Playlists, which bear in mind how you’d spend a rainy/sunny/chilly weekend in that particular destination. The suggested stays for New York City on a pleasantly warm weekend, for instance, might gravitate towards locations near Central Park; on a snowy weekend, you may instead see hotels with great spas.

What it all boils down to is an evolution of HotelTonight from travel tech start up to bonafide, hotels-driven OTA. And whatever comes next—a loyalty program, perhaps?—will no doubt help solidify its place among the bigwigs.

Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein

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