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Q+A Series from PhoCusWright 2013: Cheryl Rosner of Stayful.com

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At this year’s PhoCusWright Conference—an annual gathering of the world’s most influential travel innovators—all eyes were on the Innovation Summit and the presenting entrepreneurs. But not all of the talent in attendance was on stage. In a short Q+A series we will introduce you to three new companies that are also poised to change the way we travel.

First up, is Cheryl Rosner, the visionary behind Stayful.com, a website whose proprietary bidding system allows travelers to suggest their own rates at amazing independent and boutique hotels in six (soon to be 10) U.S. cities. As the former Hotels.com president and president of Expedia Corporate Travel, Rosner is a discerning traveler who prides herself on seeking out unique properties with great design and enduring character—but who also likes a bargain.

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Q: How is Stayful disrupting travel?

A: Stayful is helping travelers get a better price at the independent, boutique hotel where they want to stay, by allowing them to bid on rooms at the price they want to pay. Stayful enables a closer relationship between the traveler and hotel with a real-time request and response, resulting in great savings and an occupied room that otherwise would have gone empty in the next 30 days.

Stayful travelers bid on hotels they choose, versus other sites where the traveler does not know what hotel they are bidding on or where they will stay until after they pay.

Every instant bid made by a traveler results in guaranteed savings off of the best available rate. In addition, Stayful’s fees to hotels are significantly lower than other channels, since our commitment is to serve and support our local hotels by keeping fees low.

Stayful’s new generation model creates cost savings for the hotel and price savings for the traveler, with a much easier process for both sides.

Q: Beyond Stayful, what digital travel services/resources do you think are smart? 

A: Services that provide transparency, convenience and local guidance for travelers contribute to a great travel experience. Everything from an easier way to decipher air travel to better travel booking options to hotel services on mobile can help create more efficient experiences.

The ultimate goal is to help travelers enjoy the destination instead of spending time on unsatisfactory experiences, like frustrating customer service or waiting in lines.

In addition to Stayful for hotels, I like Routehappy, which brings a lot of transparency to air travel.

Q: What digital travel trends do you foresee for 2014 and beyond? 

A: Multi-modal trip planning and customization are big ones. The typical Stayful traveler skews millennial, and they tell us they expect value and want an easy approach to multi-modal trip planning and more personalized trip options. Stayful delivers the value they want, and now we are talking with our travelers about delivering trip customization.

Smartphones are the devices of choice, as they are helping travelers make decisions and enhance their experiences more than ever before. In addition, we do expect to see improved seamless interaction across devices allowing consumers to use devices interchangeably as the intent demands.

Q: What’s your best travel tip?

A: Stay in hotels located in the financial district on the weekends, and stay in hotels located in leisure tourist districts midweek. There are significant price savings with this strategy. For example, travelers staying in NYC’s Wall Street area or San Francisco’s Embarcadero area on the weekends get significant savings and help hotels by staying with them during their need periods. The traveler gets a great deal, and they get to do good for the hotel in the local hood. Everybody wins.

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Adrien Glover is Deputy Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Stayful.com

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