The service works with a variety of independent hotels to find empty spots and then algorithmically determines what a fair price would be for the room. But consumers don’t have to go with that price – they can choose to offer the hotel their own lowball bid if they choose, and find out immediately if their offer is accepted. This makes the service comparable, to some extent, to something like Priceline, which lets you name your own prices for flights, hotels, and more . Because Stayful’s focus is on filling unsold inventory, it only books stays that are set to occur in the next 30 days – though, obviously, the closer it is to your stay, the more likely it is that a hotel would take your lower-than-suggested offer. In addition, for travelers who prefer to stay in boutique hotels, Stayful is also useful for helping them find the right ones by describing them by themes – like hip, classic, kid-friendly, etc., plus offering descriptions and photos of the venue. Get the full story at TechCrunch Stayful grows its network of boutique hotels by 4Xs in one year Stayful is celebrating its one-year anniversary today, and all the milestones it has achieved along the way. Over the past 12 months, Stayful has experienced tremendous growth, quadrupling the number of markets and expanding its service abroad. To kick off their anniversary, Stayful today launched their Refer-A-Friend program just in time for the holidays. Stayful users can earn up to $500 by inviting friends. Stayful helps travelers discover and book the best independent and boutique hotels within a 30-day window. Its real-time bidding platform features hundreds of hotels from around the U.S. and Canada that offer more unique travel experiences. Stayful's pricing engine determines a fair price for the room based on supply-and-demand in the market, and travelers can negotiate room price with hotel owners until both sides agree on a price. "Boutique and independent hotels enable travelers to experience the cities they visit in a local, authentic way," says Stayful's CEO Cheryl Rosner. "Stayful's approach clearly resonates with travelers of all kinds. We are excited about our refer-a-friend program where Stayful users can earn as much as $500 to experience these great hotels. This is the first of many new Stayful features and innovations to come in the year ahead." Stayful launched in November 2013 with 6 markets. Now, the startup is active in 24 markets, including the international city of Vancouver, and has laid the groundwork for extensive international expansion next year. It has also grown its network of hotel partnerships around the country, driven by close communication with its customers to better fulfill their needs. In addition to more unique hotel experiences, Stayful's platform also helps travelers save significant amounts of money. The largest amount saved on a single booking in 2014 was $465, and the site enabled savings by as much as 45%. The average savings of most transactions was 16%. New York City is the most-booked city on Stayful's platform, followed by San Francisco. Earlier this month, Stayful made headlines with its first-of-its-kind TweetStay campaign, where people could book hotels on Twitter. Customers tweeted where they are going and their travel dates with the hashtag #tweetstay or #tweetstayful. Stayful then bid on hotels within their price range, and returned a tweet with a link to complete the booking at one of three hotels. The campaign was wildly successful, and customers can expect more of this type of innovation in the year to come. Stayful's other big plans for 2015 include a mobile app, and further expansion that will encompass Europe, the rest of America, and adding more resorts. Related Link: Stayful