The Recharge app lets travellers book hotel rooms by the minute. The Recharge app lets travellers book hotel rooms by the minute.

Recharge, a mobile app available on iOS and Android, allows travellers to book flexible-length stays at four- and five-star luxury hotels by the minute, Lonely Planet News reports.

The app, which started off in San Francisco, has now branched out to New York City too. People can book in about 20 hotels in each destination from a few minutes to a few hours any time of the day.

Hotels include five-star properties like the Surrey and the Pierre in New York City and the Taj Campton Palace in San Francisco, according to the report.

How the app works

Travellers can find a nearby participating hotel on the app and hit book now. The hotel room will be immediately ready for check-in but allows a complimentary 30-minute travel time. Payment begins when the key is given or 30 minutes after the booking, whichever comes first, the app’s website states. There are no specific check-in and check-out times. People can self-checkout by hitting the checkout button on the app when they are ready to leave.

The app allows travellers to book up to 48 hours in advance by selecting the ‘Later’ option on the app.

In regards to the hotel charge, guests are charged by the minute and it’s based on the city and tier-rating of the hotel. The app, however, displays the pricing by the hour to accommodate travellers looking to book longer stays. Additionally, most hotels charge an upfront lodging tax which varies depending on the city and a fixed service fee.

“Hotel rooms are often occupied only for the overnight hours. From a hotelier’s point of view, the asset is underutilized for much of the day,” Sean F Hennessey, clinical assistant professor at The Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism told Lonely Planet News.

“Traditionally, hotels have not tried to sell rooms by the hour because (a) they feared illicit use and (b) the logistics for sales and housekeeping are daunting. Societal norms have eased perceptions about the first issue and the technology of smartphones and app have removed much of the friction of the second,” he adds.

The report points out that among those who are most likely to use the app, travellers with lengthy layovers, business professionals who are looking for a space to work and locals looking for a different experience top the list.

Hennessey, however, points out that the app is unlikely to drive down cost of hotel services. “It seems unlikely that competition and increased usage are unlikely to drive down the cost of such services to be very low because the commission for the app and the cost of housekeeping and related hotel services will remain,” he adds.

While brief rentals are not a new concept, the report notes that such amenities were previously only available in budget-friendly hotels rather than luxury hotel properties.

The report adds that Recharge is likely to expand to other cities soon.

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