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Airbnb + HotelTonight = new startup Overnight

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/05/2016 Josh Constine

Need a place to crash last-minute but don’t want to pay for a pricey, cookie-cutter hotel? Overnight can hook you up with a local to stay with right away. Request a room and Overnight averages just 45 seconds until you get a response, and in LA, the startup says its spots are 23% cheaper than equivalent dwellings on HotelTonight.

Overnight is Airbnb for people who don’t plan ahead. With $2.3 million in seed funding from Accomplice and CrossCut Ventures , it’s now officially expanding from LA, Austin, and Coachella valley to San Francisco. It also has hosts scattered across 40 countries around the world.

Overnight is designed to drop the heavy-handed calendaring of Airbnb and keep listings private unless a host approves a potential guest.

To use Overnight’s iOS app, you set up an authenticated account with your Facebook profile and drop a pin in the general area you want to stay. Nearby hosts get a push notification that lets you then check out your profile and if you have any mutual friends to make sure you don’t look scary. As long as they accept you, you’ll get a message that shows the photos and details of their place. If you approve, you’ll get the option to pay for the room and chat with host to coordinate entry.

One concern is that hosts might discriminate against certain races or types of people while making impulsive decisions about who to let stay.

Overnight won’t disclose the cut it takes of room prices but says its smaller than Airbnb. And since if don’t have to schedule your place’s availability ahead of time, you can just leave Overnight on and accept requests only when they’re home.

Overnight is still small. It’s only seeing 300 requests per night in LA, but it’s growing fast, with hosted spaces up 150% month-over-month for the past three months since launch. Compared to the clunkier flow of Airbnb, the 6-minute average booking time on Overnight makes it easy to do if you find yourself consumed with wanderlust or suddenly in need of a flop house.

One big advantage of Overnight is that since rooms aren’t openly listed online like with Airbnb, Craigslist, or other home-stay apps, it could work for people trying to rent out rooms on the sly without their landlord knowing. Potential guests have to use their real-name from their Facebook profile, so hosts could decline anyone they think might be trying to bust them for sub-leasing against their rental agreement. That’s a big deal as Airbnb grows large enough to be monitored by property owners and local governments.

“I think it’s great that people can control their privacy as long as they abide by their agreements and local laws” Co-founder and CEO Asher Hunt tells me. “We’re invested in the long-term sustainability of home sharing and though people have seen our privacy aspects as attractive for the reasons you point to, we encourage our hosts to communicate openly with their landlords and again abide by their rental agreements and of course local regulations.” Still, I bet a lot of users will take advantage of hosting on the down-low.

HotelTonight has carved out a smart business because when it’s getting late and hotels are likely to be stuck with empty rooms, they’ll offer lower prices. Similarly, Overnight could offer cheap prices to users because hosts either take what they can get or won’t earn anything.

After all, Overnight’s cheeky motto is “In Spontaneity We Trust”.

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