Hotwire is a hotel-booking website whose users can get room-rate discounts that sometimes exceed 50%. The catch is that they don’t discover the identity of the hotel where they will be staying until the booking has been completed. The hotels meanwhile benefit from filling otherwise empty rooms, albeit at less than full price, without having to advertise the fact that they’re not selling out. The site gives some details about each hotel, such as its general location, its star rating, its rating from Hotwire users, and its amenities, but not enough, in theory, to enable an accurate identification. The US-based site has been running for ten years, and now has 27,000 hotels in 2,500 locations. A site geared towards British and Irish users has just been launched, on the grounds that British travellers are the savvy sorts (according to focus groups) who are likely to benefit. Hotwire works best, says Fulvia Montresor, a senior director at Hotwire, in markets where travellers know their hotels. “The Brits know what a four-star hotel is,” she says. “They know what a good price is.” This is obviously pertinent to the Hotwire experience, as it’s only if you know what a four-star hotel in, say, the “Mayfair-Soho” area should normally cost that you can work out if the “hot rate” being offered is worth getting excited about. Get the full story at The Economist (free content)