Stayful launched its service in a private beta test today. It’s a service travelers use to find and bid on rooms in boutique hotels. Stayful has built a bidding platform in which travelers and hotel owners negotiate room prices in real time. The site features an array of boutique hotels, and its pricing engine determines a fair price for the room based on current supply-and-demand in the market. This amount, as well as the needs of the traveler and hotel, are kept in account until both sides agree on a price. The traveler gets to book a reasonably priced room in a nice hotel, and the hotel gets to fill unused inventory. “Independent boutique hotels care about finding and acquiring new customers who are interested in their unique offering — a more memorable and personal travel experience that’s set apart from a generic hotel stay,” Stayful CEO Cheryl Rosner said to VentureBeat. “Through Stayful, hotels can sell rooms that otherwise would’ve been empty to increase occupancy, while reaching new customers at a low cost. Better pricing for consumers and filling rooms that would have otherwise gone unsold benefits everyone’s bottom line.” Rosner is the former president of Expedia Corporate Travel and Hotels.com. She said boutique hotels are the best way to experience a new place, but these businesses can struggle to keep up with large and well-resourced competitors. Unsold rooms pose a significant problem for these hotels, which run lower occupancy rates than large and chain-affiliated hotels. Boutique hotel owners cite their main struggles as raising awareness of their properties, connecting with new customers, and improving occupancy in a highly competitive and fragmented market. Selling “perishable inventory” is a consistent challenge in this industry, Stayful maintains it provides a channel to do this. Get the full story at VentureBeat and Bloomberg Businessweek Related Link: Stayful