From Hopper, Exclusive Flight Deals Sent Directly to Phones

Hopper, the airfare prediction and booking app, has introduced a feature that it says will offer travelers airfare deals they won’t be able to find on any other booking platform, sent to their phone.

While push notifications have become a key tool for many travel booking agencies, Hopper says it is the first major platform to use the technology to offer these kinds of special rates, which it is calling Secret Fares.

Users of the app have the option of receiving push notifications on their mobile devices which, according to Hopper, contain exclusive international airfare deals that could cost up to 35 percent less than rates listed on other online travel sites.

Secret Fares may also show up in searches on the app and are more likely to appear or be sent based on which destination cities the user is tracking using the app’s “Watch” feature, Hopper said. (Offers to other destinations may be suggested as well.)

“I think fundamentally we’re disrupting the category in the most traditional sense, we’re creating something that the other guys can’t do,” said Fred Lalonde, the chief executive of Hopper.

The rates come from the international airlines that Hopper has partnered with, including Air Canada, LATAM and Air China, and apply to roughly 60,000 routes to major destinations like Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro and Costa Rica.

Hopper said it expects Secret Fares to mainly focus on international routes, though some domestic fares will be mixed in, and that more international airlines will join as partners later this year.

“For the airline it makes a lot of sense because on Hopper people track for example their international travel up to 140 days before departure. So it gives the airlines a lot of time to give them exclusive pricing,” Mr. Lalonde said.

Hopper said airlines are interested in partnering with the company because the app maintains sole access to the rates, and if an airline were to offer these types of discounts on the open web, they would typically result in a fare war, as competitors can spot the discount and match the price.

“Almost everybody participates in Google Flights and Kayak and we don’t,” Mr. Lalonde said. “We don’t forward our rates. Nothing ever leaves the app.”

While beta testing Secret Fares in recent months, Hopper said feedback has been promising from both the airlines and its users.

“What the early data says is that when a user sees one of these fares they are twice as likely to purchase from us, even if they don’t buy this fare. You see that, and then you price check it, because it sounds too good to be true,” Mr. Lalonde said.

Working to Hopper’s advantage is that its users are already conditioned to respond well to push notifications, which generate 90 percent of its sales, and it has an extensive database of flight booking data that it uses to make its airfare predictions.

“You need accurate forecasting for people to engage with you meaningfully on the phone.” Mr. Lalonde said, adding: “We have a historic archive that has 7 trillion prices in it that we use to create our forecasting accuracy and people trust it.”