Insightful Design: Hotel Tonight App

Hotel Tonight is one of my new favorite apps. I'll be honest, they hooked me with the animated intro screen which animates little Hotel Tonight logos coming to life around the city with the quote "I see the future but live for the moment." Other apps are just showing a loading animation at this point, but it's 2015 and the user has to be delighted if he is going to use an app. I love the idea of last-minute booking as an app, but that's not why I love it. Hotel Tonight really respects the importance of my taps. Booking a hotel on this app requires only three taps and a swipe, totaling about eight seconds (compared to Priceline’s mobile process which is apparently 52 taps, 102 seconds and Hotels.com’s app 40 taps, 109 seconds). I also love how the top level nav makes it easy to jump from section and know where you are in the app at a glance.

I love the way they handled common frustrations in their photo upload and date picker solutions. The date picker is beautiful, simple, and intuitive. It allows you to scroll horizontally instead of using the phone's native drop down. The "Snap Your Stay" feature could be easily ignored, but it is brilliant for several reasons. It tackles the problem that many apps have: how do you get users to create reviews? Normally, users would be required to take pictures and title them without any guidance, but this system takes away all of the doubt. Simple placeholder boxes for content guide the user into which types of pictures they should be taking, and as a bonus, the naming is already taken care of. They even add little hints in the comments like "Take a picture while the bed is made" ensuring that the pictures are as accurate as possible. If that wasn't enough to get the user excited to submit, there is a progress bar that also helps motivate users to publish their review.