Some travelers like to fly by the seat of their pants. If that’s you, the travel app Overnight will be your new secret weapon for spontaneity. The mobile-only platform searches for nearby accommodations and uses Facebook to connect you with listings so that you’re not staying with strangers, but friends and people in their networks. You can book last-minute or with a few weeks notice in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and New York City.
“It’s an interesting new way to unlock a city,” says Asher Hunt, CEO of Overnight. The idea for the app arose during a period of heavy travel in his life. He was living in L.A. but on a plane every three or four days. “I noticed that the amount of effort that it took to find a reasonably priced place to stay was very hard,” he says. “I was traveling so much I wasn’t booking places until the same day.”
After an uncomfortable couch-crashing scenario, he realized there had to be a better way, and began developing the Overnight app. “The initial version of the app that we built was like an Uber for a place to sleep,” he explains. “You drop a pin, you hit a radius, and you blast out to hosts in the area.” In about a minute, users have several options of local places to stay. The average time of searching to booking is six minutes.
The app appeals to those who prefer that travel be a social, spontaneous, and unique experience as opposed to the branded predictability of a hotel chain. Hosts charge substantially less for their spaces than what you’d pay for a hotel room. In L.A., for example, Hunt says the average hotel room is $220 a night; on Overnight it’s $70.
“We’re catalyzing or becoming the tipping point for somebody deciding to take an extra trip that year,” Hunt says. Going forward, Overnight wants to further enable and encourage people to travel more often. “Before somebody even knows they want to travel, how can we inspire them to travel?” he asks. Making accommodations more affordable and friendly is certainly a good start.