To help define travel for the next generation of adventurers, Porter & Sail is combining discovery and booking it leans toward full-platform experiences. The app seeks to be a one-stop shop for finding and booking a property, curating a stay, personalizing arrivals, engaging with the destination and discovering places for a traveler’s next vacation. “We look to do all of that across one very seamless, frictionless platform,” Porter & Sail CEO and Co-founder Caitlin Zaino von During told PYMNTS in an interview.
The platform, von During said, is based on feasibility. A New York-based user who is experiencing the cold winter, for instance, might be looking to spend a few days in a warmer location. While it may not be feasible to travel too far, that adventurer can book a trip to Miami, Nashville or Montréal. The platform prompts consumers with content-led inspiration, such as the best trending dive bars, then makes it easy to find and book properties.
Porter & Sail aims to make booking an approximately three-step process, which begins with discovery through the platform’s content. The app offers hotel photo stories, with imagery and short copy, to show properties as the consumer would experience them. The idea is to simulate the experience of walking into a lobby, seeing the amenities and visiting a room, which would not come through by simply sharing the size of the room in square feet. “We really wanted to inspire before we transact,” von During said.
The Booking Experience
To make a reservation, users can tap the “book now” button and enter their guest information, including check-in and check-out dates as well as party size and currency. “It’s a … clean sort of experience that just pops up right from the bottom of the screen,” von During said. At that time, customers can see available rooms and swipe right to view different images, along with short descriptions of room features.
Once the consumer chooses an available room, they enter their information, such as name, email address and credit card. The process, from booking to confirmation, takes about three screens. As far as the booking process is concerned, von During said “it’s all instant” and “connected to leading back-end systems for central reservations.” The company accepts credit cards for payments, but is looking into adding Apple Pay in the future.
The Mobile Travel Market
von During sees her customer base as a psychographic as opposed to a demographic. She believes that all consumers are digitally fluent, curious, engaged and excited about travel. And today, she believes consumers expect their hotel touchpoint or experience will be mobile and instant. (And, of course, there is no longer an expectation that one will call a hotel to make a booking.) Porter & Sail’s platform, she noted, is designed for how people travel now.
With online travel agencies (OTAs), however, consumers have the experience of being bombarded with hotel choices that become so overwhelming that they are no longer productive. While it was exciting to see so many hotels at once when OTAs first came on the scene, von During noted the choices quickly became redundant and burdensome. Her platform, by contrast, seeks to curate hotels and offer properties that focus on creativity and authenticity – mostly independent, higher-end or boutique hotels.
Regarding the curation process, von During noted that the hotels on the platform are not defined by their average daily rate (ADR) – they are instead selected by the experiences they provide. The site features properties in Poland that she says are incredible, but are not at the highest price point, while it also includes some hotels in Amsterdam that are at a high price point. However, these hotels share something in common: They provide “individualized, unique experiences that speak to that destination and provide a vision for that guest” that is different from cookie-cutter stays, according to von During.
Apps such as Porter & Sail seek to provide a fast way for consumers to discover and book hotels. And they are tapping into a curated selection – along with content – as they seek to stand out from other hotel reservation services in the mobile age.