Same-day apps cater to last-minute travelers

| Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Procrastinating travelers who find it difficult to plan trips in advance could find some spontaneity and even bargains with last-minute travel apps to book flights and hotel rooms.

Whether it's finding a flight or a same-day hotel room, apps are catering to consumers seeking more flexibility.

“Most people think that it's crazy to book a flight at the last minute because it's expensive and complicated,” says Patrick Surrey, chief data scientist at Massachusetts-based travel company Hopper.

Hopper's new app, Flight Tonight for iPhones, helps consumers find flights leaving within 24 hours.

After entering the airport of departure, the app displays every destination with flights that day sorted by cheapest price. The company, which analyzes millions of flight purchases each day, said a small number of flights booked on the same day of travel have the same price as those booked 30 to 50 days in advance.

The app is free and available in the United States and Canada.

For last-minute hotel bookings, consumers can turn to popular apps such as Hotel Tonight and HotelQuickly, which show rooms available at a discount for the same night. The travel website LastMinute Travel also has a same-day reservation app.

Last month, the Chicago-based Groupon launched a new app feature called Getaway Tonight for finding same-day hotel deals in the United States.

“Already, 15 percent of hotel bookings are done at the last minute, and it's growing as more tools emerge that allow consumers to be more spontaneous in their planning,” says Simon Goodall, vice president and general manager of Groupon Getaways.

But Chris McGinnis, editor of the website TravelSkills, says it is unlikely travelers will embrace a same-day flight-booking app. “To drop everything and run out to the airport, that's not the way people operate,” he said.

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