New hotel booking app Cherry hits the ground running

Cherry co-founders Matt Taylor, left, and Luke Young.

Having recently launched a new travel booking app, tourism entrepreneurs Matt Taylor and Luke Young are well placed to analyse the hotel booking patterns of Australian travellers as we head out of the pandemic.

Taylor, the co-founder and chief executive of the app, Cherry, says domestic hotel bookings – particularly in regional centres – are running at unprecedented levels. But in cities, major events also draw in big numbers of travellers.

“In the past couple of weeks Melbourne came out of the Grand Prix weekend with the largest occupancy the city had seen since 2019,” he says.

His statements are backed by global data agency STR which recently revealed Melbourne hotel bookings hit levels as high as 89 per cent during the holiday period.

“If you look at the Easter weekend just gone, every accommodation type was pretty much 100 per cent full,” says Taylor.

“Preliminary travel data will show that occupancy across all accommodation types over the Easter weekend was the highest since pre-2019. People’s appetite for travel was high when you look at what was happening in airports and on roads, we have not seen such congestion for a long, long time.”

Taylor says the regional markets are still getting a stronger rebound than the city markets, but with some of the international restrictions lifting we will start to see more inbound travellers coming into city hotels.

“(However) Most of the industry data would suggest international travel is not going to reach pre-pandemic levels until later in 2023. Australians are still looking to the regional markets,” he says.

Taylor’s new app, Cherry, sources the cheapest accommodation rates across any travel booking site, and while it is free to use for the travelling public, it charges hoteliers $79 a month to send customers and their subsequent bookings the hotel’s way.

Taylor and the app’s co-founder Luke Young, say in the six weeks since the app launched they have signed on thousands of domestic hoteliers to their network – with an international launch in Canada and North America expected by mid year.

“With the excessive number of booking sites currently available, booking accommodation today is far from an easy experience,” adds Young.

“It’s impossible to know if the price shown is the best price plus every time a booking is made through a third-party site, the hotel loses a large chunk of revenue with costly commissions, sometimes as high as 30 per cent of the reservation value. Hotels want travellers to book directly, and are prepared to offer better deals than what is in the market to make this happen. We’ve built Cherry to make accessing these deals easy,” he says.

Taylor stresses that Cherry is not a booking platform.

“We take someone from Expedia and offer them a better deal and they can be taken across to the property’s direct site as opposed to the online booking engine.”

Taylor and Young say they are close to signing the major international hotel players operating in Australia and have signed the Observatory Apartments in Coffs Harbour, Nelson Bay Hotel and Apartments, as well as the Metro Hotel Group.

“Coming out of the past couple of years, hotels have had a really tough time, there has been a war between the hotels and the online booking sites, hotels want people to book direct,” says Taylor.

“They don’t have the marketing power of and for example.

“We have found a different way for hotels to get more traffic to their direct website, that is the purpose of the Cherry app. It has always been the case that you can get a better deal booking direct through the hotel.

“These large booking websites have created the perception it is cheaper to go through them.”

Taylor says booking a hotel direct was cheaper.