Nearly twenty years after designing one of the world’s leading travel search engines, Kayak is getting into the brick and mortar business of hospitality.
In April Kayak will launch its first-ever hotel in Miami Beach. The historic Art Deco property aims to offer a curated experience with a high tech approach.
“We are really psyched about it,” said Kayak CEO Steve Hafner in a call. “We are really good at consumer software and when we looked at the hotel industry we thought there were places for improvement.”
Describing the new venture as “a very tech-forward, authentic experience,” Hafner explains that they designed a hotel that their well-heeled customers would want to visit. Recently, they’ve seen consumer interest in boutique hotel experiences over larger chains. Hafner also predicts a rise in “bleisure,” the combination of business and leisure travel.
Their hotel will also function as a design lab as Kayak builds and refines its accommodation technology, essentially giving developers a way to physically see what consumers want and how they would use a full service hotel app. At the Miami Beach property, guests have 24/7 access to staff and support, notifications of hotel events and room-ready alerts.
Eventually the back end software, which is currently underdevelopment, will allow integrations to cloud-based property management systems, including wireless lock and access controls. They envision consumers using their app for a variety of hotel properties, offering everything from check-in to amenities. The technology is being developed in partnership with Life House, a vertically integrated hotel brand and management company.
Kayak is part of Booking Holdings, which also owns OpenTable and other travel, activity and restaurant brands. In 2019, Kayak began a cross-platform integration with OpenTable, allowing consumers to use their OpenTable points for hotel discounts. This new foray into hotels is part of Kayak’s larger strategy to “inject more technology into the restaurant and hotel space” said Hafner.
Miami was an easy choice for the travel search engine’s first hotel. The city consistently ranks as a top ten destination on Kayak’s annual reports.
Kayak plans on adding a West Coast outpost – possibly Los Angeles – as well as a potential European location. As for the East Coast, they are considering a short-term rental accommodation in Boston. They plan to be operating at multiple locations by the end of 2021.
In addition to a hotel, the new property features a modern Eastern Mediterranean bar and restaurant concept, Layla. The name is a nod to the famous Arab love story.