Canada: Gen Z- and millennial-focused online travel agency, Hopper, has expanded into a new travel vertical with the launch of short-term rental homes in its app through Hopper Homes.
Seeking to bring price transparency and flexibility to the home rental category, Hopper Homes launches with more than two million properties in its inventory, and with more being added on a daily basis. The brand will provide lodging options in the same space where travellers can already book flights, hotels and car rentals.
To help travellers find their perfect property, Hopper Homes will have advanced filters such as location, the number of bedrooms, amenities and price [launching soon], while its mobile-first app will offer instant booking capabilities.
As the number one downloaded travel app in North America in 2021 [ahead of Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com], Hopper Homes hopes to capitalise on the surging popularity of short-term rentals in recent years and during the pandemic. Real-time competitive intelligence firm Apptopia states that the Hopper app has already been downloaded almost 70 million times.
According to Phocuswright Research, short-term rentals jumped from 17 per cent of accommodation bookings to 27 per cent in 2021, which can partly be attributed to a decrease in business travel and a desire for more novel, memorable experiences.
The same research details how short-term home renters skew younger than the US traveller population overall, with more than four in ten rental travellers under the age of 35. Hopper reports that around 40 per cent of its customers indicated that they prefer homes over hotels and 24 per cent have no preference between the two, while 44 per cent of Hopper travellers book for more than two people, highlighting why the segment has become an even more appealing proposition.
While this is true, the short-term rental booking experience still provides a number of pain points. Hopper is seeking to alleviate by reducing traveller anxiety during the booking process by offering greater price transparency and flexibility by eliminating hidden or surprise fees and confusing or inflexible cancellation or payment terms through financial service products.
Over the coming months, Hopper Homes is poised to integrate a number of its most popular fintech features, including Price Prediction and Cancel for Any Reason, that are intended to make travel more flexible to align with all traveller needs.
In addition, it will integrate its credit system, Carrot Cash, in a bid to increase loyalty, drive repeat purchases and ultimately save its customers money.
According to Phocuswright, 89 per cent of travellers now belong to at least one travel loyalty programme. Travellers who book through Hopper Homes will have the option of choosing to book any type of travel – from flights to hotels, cars and homes – and earn Carrot Cash in return.
Customers accumulating Carrot Cash will be able to apply that credit to any type of booking on Hopper. The ability to earn cash back on all travel purchases [not just one category of travel] will allow Hopper users to get the most out of every road trip, staycation or flight they take.
In August, Hopper raised $175 million in a funding round led by GPI Capital, taking its total funding to date to a reported $598.7 million and helping it to achieve a valuation of $3.5 billion.
The company also expects to exceed $2 billion in travel sales this year, with 30 per cent coming from the hotel and car rental categories.
International Hospitality Media [IHM] recently previewed the launch of Hopper Homes in its A-Z piece for what to expect from travel and hospitality in 2022.