I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with hotel booking app, Hotel Tonight.
On the one hand, the company is by far my favorite way to book last minute hotel rooms in costly markets like San Francisco. I really do love it. On the other hand, the company is still young enough that hotels still somtimes treat users like second class guests: putting late bookers in crappy rooms or, as has happened to me on more than one occasion, “walking” them to other hotels having double-sold the room. I’ve also had several slightly regrettable Twitter meltdowns after being unable to sleep at 3am for the sound of rattling garbage cans or rickety service elevators adjacent to the worst room in the house.
Recently, though, I’ve noticed a huge change in the standard of room and service I’ve received when booking through the Hotel Tonight app. At a recent San Francisco stay — I won’t say at which hotel — the receptionist seemed positively excited to see me: a first time guest at the hotel, booking a discounted rate, through a third party app. Not only did they gush about how happy they were to have me staying, but they even upgraded me to a suite. Having literally grown up in hotels, my bullshit meter went off the charts.
At the taping of yesterday’s Pando “webinar” I asked founder Sam Shank outright: By any chance does Hotel Tonight keep a list of whiny Twitter assholes to ensure they get special treatment?
“It’s not a list of assholes,” Shank insisted, thus confirming that it absolutely is.
He wouldn’t tell me precisely how many people were on Hotel Tonight’s asshole list, although he would say it’s “a few hundred.” But again he insisted the assholes on it were referred to in the company as “influencers.”
“What kind of influencers?” I asked.
Shank hesitated. “Heads of state, Victoria’s Secret models, that kind of thing,” he lied.
Apparently when one of these “influencers” makes a booking, someone from Hotel Tonight calls the hotel and warns them that an
asshole influencer is en route. Result: no more Twitter meltdowns, and another reward for bratty, entitled behavior in the social media age.
Still, “influencer” is as good a euphemism for a spoiled, pampered brat who whines about hotels on Twitter as I’ve ever heard. I really hope it catches on.
Are you on Hotel Tonight’s asshole list? Let me know — maybe we’ll get t-shirts printed.
Jason Calacanis is an asshole too!
— jason (@Jason) May 22, 2014