Hourly Hotel Booking App in KL for Days & Remote Work
Hotels are often outings for which time is set aside, usually with the plan to stay the night or several nights. For a very long time, the business model of the hotel dictated that a room had to be reserved for a stay of at least one night, so it wasn’t like we had a lot of choice.
But Flow, a “platform for space”, now makes hourly booking services possible for 3-5 star hotels. The Hong Kong-based company noticed that there were two types of hotel guests who almost never stayed in their rooms all day, such as young locals seeking privacy or parties, and travelers short-haul from nearby towns.
For these short-stay users, the previously mentioned fixed length of stay in traditional hotels is rigid and costly.
“So we thought, why can’t users enjoy premium hotel experiences and, at the same time, only pay for the exact hours they just need?” said Eric Lai, co-founder and chief operating officer at Flow.
Settling in Malaysia
After analyzing the Hong Kong hotel market, the Flow app was launched in the metropolis in early 2018. The app was later launched in Singapore and KL late last year as the company believed that both areas shared similarities with Hong Kong.
The pandemic has also increased interest in weekend days at hotels, as international borders have remained closed. According to Flow’s market research, KL has over 400 hotels ranging from 3 to 5 stars, an opportunity they hope to exploit as they grow in Malaysia.
For now, they offer about 30 hotel listings in the city. In Hong Kong, Singapore and KL, however, they facilitated over 200,000 room bookings, bringing in an additional $10 million to the hotel partners‘ total booking volume.
In Hong Kong, Flow offers three categories: Rest, Work and Meet. Work refers to a shared office while Meet stands for meeting rooms. However, only Rest is currently available in KL.
“We are planning to launch the same in KL where there are also many co-working spaces,” assured Eric. During our interview, he shared that Flow intends to expand its service to adjacent cities like Penang and Johor.
Overall, the Flow team is looking at opportunities beyond the hospitality realm. “We will also venture into other services that synergize with our hotel bookings, such as restaurants, local events and events that will meet other local needs,” he said. .
Ideal for hybrid workers on the go
While Flow’s self-explanatory appeal to those looking for a vacation, it’s interesting to see its service from the perspective of remote workers.
We are in the era of hybrid working where remote working is no longer a luxury, but a norm. To that end, we look for cafes and coworking spaces, but they all lack one specific element: true intimacy.
And that’s where hotel rooms can fill the void. You get the bedroom and its privacy to yourself (no shared toilets, need I say more?), a variety of workspaces – from the bed to the dining table to the desk, and the amenities of the hotel such as the pool and gym, to boot. All this in one day and you can go back to your own comfortable bed at night.
As you might expect, the cost of booking a hotel room for several hours will always cost you more than RM100 in a high-end hotel, but as Flow has shown, there is a ready market. to pay the price.
On the hotel side, Flow provides a web portal for hoteliers to manage their preferred time slots and prices, which are in turn listed on the Flow website and app in real time. 5-8 hour slots for guests are usually offered, but these can be adjusted depending on hotel operations.
“Most of our hotel prices are at least 30% below traditional nightly prices,” Eric explained. “If the room can sell two sessions in one day, that already translates to 40% more revenue.”
Flow charges hotels a booking fee for each transaction to cover credit card fees, platform development and marketing, although the exact percentage was not disclosed.
The platform helps drive hotel sales through online advertisements and social media features, sometimes through joint promotions with hotels.
“We also have our membership system in place and we often notify our members via email and app notifications about new hotels and the latest deals,” Eric said.
Go with the flow
Since the app is already live in Malaysia, I decided to check it out for myself. After going through a short introduction, I’m greeted by the app’s homepage.
By clicking on Explore, I am prompted to search for a resting place. As Eric mentioned, Work and Meet will only be offered in the future.
A list of familiar and new hotels appears when I click Rest. I don’t know how the listings are sorted as they don’t appear to be alphabetical or based on price. And although Flow focuses on 3-5 star hotels, I noticed a 2 star hotel was listed as well.
Since the rooms listed are empty rooms that the hotel wants to fill, most if not all of the listings offer “instant confirmation”. There is also a percentage discount shown to indicate how much less the price quoted is than booking the room for a traditional one night stay, ranging from 20% to 58% (the highest discount I have seen so far).
A “Free Cancellation” bubble can also be found on some listings, which is beneficial for remote workers with flexible hours.
In each listing there is an about section as well as an area showcasing the amenities of the property in small helpful icons. Below, I can choose my date and the duration of my stay, which are fixed by the hotel.
I am then asked to choose the type of room and I am offered two payment options: online prepayment or payment at the hotel. Check-in and check-out times are clearly indicated in the reservation details.
Some things I like about the app are its user-friendly interface and the fact that I don’t need to create a full account to explore the options. I would appreciate it better if the listings also had a section where I could read guest reviews, not only about the hotel itself, but also about the Flow booking process.
Towards the future
Hotels have been hit hard during the pandemic, and something like Flow could help the travel economy recover. There’s still plenty of room for Flow to grow, especially with the daycation crowds.
In order to attract more remote workers, Flow should expand its variety of hotels. For the most part, this crowd would be working from home, in a coworking space, or in a coffee shop, but the ability to work from a hotel room would be a welcome change once or twice a month.
But because what remote workers crave is a change of scenery once in a while, chances are they’ll want to hop from hotel to hotel instead of staying in the same one over and over.
If Flow can satisfy that desire, remote working from hotel rooms may become a mainstream culture as working in coworking spaces and cafes have done.
- Learn more about Flow here.
- Read more app-related articles we’ve written here.