Tired of sifting through too many hotel options to find the best deal? A new online travel startup wants to help you save time by doing all of that labor-intensive searching for you. Just send it a note on Facebook Messenger, and it will present you with the best choices within seconds.
To begin, “like” SnapTravel on Facebook, then send it a private message with your basic travel info, such as your destination, travel dates, and budget. For example, “I’m going to London from May 15 to 20, 2017.” A bot will then present a few options. Use the filter to adjust your preferences for location and star rating. A pinch and zoom map will help you find the best rates in a particular neighborhood. Do you want a room with a view, free Wi-Fi, or a hotel with a pool? Just tell the bot.
The hotel rates quoted by SnapTravel are similar to what you’ll find on any of the big metasearch sites, such as Kayak, Priceline, or Expedia. That’s because SnapTravel is connected to dozens of online travel agents and can find the best possible price currently available on the market. When it quotes a rate, it will also show you the best available rate on Hotels.com for comparison.
“We’re 100 percent sure that we’ve parsed it correctly,” said SnapTravel founder Hussein Fazal, the former CEO of AdParlor who created the company earlier this year with Henry Shi, a one-time engineer from Google who launched YouTube Artists Analytics. The Toronto-based company has grown quickly in a half-year and currently is seeing hundreds of bookings each month, Fazal told Travel + Leisure.
But SnapTravel isn’t just a bot. It also has teams of customer service reps available 24 hours a day waiting to answer unusual requests that its computers can’t address.
“Anytime you ask it something that’s somewhat ambiguous, that’s when a human steps in,” Fazal said.
When T+L tried the app, we reached a human within seconds and asked for a 4- or 5-star hotel with free Wi-Fi near Covent Garden for around $200. “April” responded a few minutes later with three options: the Strand Palace at $191 per night, the Courthouse Hotel for $196 per night, and the Radisson Blue Portman Hotel at $240 per night. The rates include all taxes and are similar to prices we later found on Kayak and Booking.com, though SnapTravel can sometimes beat their prices. We also saw incredible rates at The Hari for $182, the London Elizabeth Hotel for $174, and La Suite West Hyde Park for $133. There’s also an option to View All Deals to see more hotels.
But that’s not where the service ends. Once you’ve booked your stay, SnapTravel will continue to handle any other requests pertaining to your room, right through check out. If you don’t like the room you’ve been given, send SnapTravel another message and it will work with the hotel to see what other rooms are available.
One additional perk: on the day of your arrival, a human representative will also call your hotel directly to ensure any special requests that you’ve made will be guaranteed, such as early check-in or a room on a higher floor. The reps also ask the front desk for a free upgrade on your behalf. Roughly 20 percent of SnapTravel’s clients get upgraded, Fazal said.
That's a service most online travel agencies won't do for you.