We tried to book a last-minute vacation with Airbnb and Hotel Tonight — and one was much easier to use than the other

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Airbnb and Hotel Tonight both allow users to book last-minute homes or hotels at low or discounted prices. 
The apps have been growing more and more similar, with Hotel Tonight starting to allow users to book farther in advance, and Airbnb rolling out a loyalty program and allowing boutique hotels to list rooms on the platform. 
With the apps becoming more competitive, we decided to compare what it’s like to book a last-minute room on each platform. We found Hotel Tonight was easier to use.

Airbnb and Hotel Tonight have changed the way we book hotels.

Gone are the days that travelers have to book hotels months in advance to get the best deals. Airbnb and Hotel Tonight allow users to book luxury hotels and private homes just hours before check-in, sometimes at crazy-low prices.

There are some key differences between the two companies. Airbnb has been around for three years longer than Hotel Tonight, with Airbnb launching in 2008 and Hotel Tonight following in 2011. Last spring, Airbnb raised another $1 billion in a funding round that valued the company at $31 billion. Hotel Tonight, for comparison, raised $37 million in a round that valued it at $463 million.

The two apps have gradually become more competitive with each other. While Airbnb has always allowed users to book well in advance of their travels, Hotel Tonight has recently expanded its services to allow users to book hotels up to 100 days in advance. 

Hotel Tonight also previously had a leg up on Airbnb by offering a loyalty program, called HT Perks, that allows frequent users to earn credit towards future bookings. But Airbnb recently unveiled a loyalty program that will rival Hotel Tonight’s, as well as a site-inspection program that ensures that homes have been verified as secure by Airbnb. 

We compared what it was like to book a last-minute stay on each of the apps. Here’s which we preferred:  

The first app we checked out was Airbnb. In order to view listings, you first had to sign up through Facebook or create an account.

In order to book an Airbnb, you need to fill out at least the basic profile information, including your full name, birthday, and ID verification, meaning a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID. It also asks for a phone number and email, and it suggests you provide information about your school and employment status. While this does make the service more secure for hosts and guests, it’s a lot to fill out at once. 

Once you’re signed in, you can view the homepage. There are featured listings of homes, experiences, and restaurants from around the world, and a new tab promotes Airbnb Plus, which lists homes that are verified by the company.
To compare the app to Hotel Tonight, I looked for a last-minute listing in New York. There was a surprising number of listings still open for that night, ranging from private rooms to entire two-bedroom apartments around New York City. Prices ranged from $50 for the night to over $200 — still definitely cheaper than any hotel you’d find in the city.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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