There are hundreds of travel apps out there, but one thing that has set Hotel Tonight apart from the rest is its first and main goal: get anyone into a last-minute hotel tonight easily through a mobile booking app. The interface of the app is very different from typical travel sites such as Expedia or Hotels.com, and it has been working for people for just over 7 years now. CEO and founder, Sam Shank, has been in the forefront of this success since the beginning. Here are a few facts about the Hotel Tonight’s CEO that many of you probably didn’t know about.
Before Hotel Tonight, Shank was involved in a couple of other startups that have given him tons of success and money as well. Dealbase.com and Travelpost are two travel websites that have gathered enough following and active subscriptions to warrant a worthy buyer. Shank sold and profited tremendously. It doesn’t look like he’ll be selling Hotel Tonight anytime soon, though.
Hollywood in another life
At one point, Shank thought that Hollywood was going to be his life. He even worked as an assistant to Wes Craven during the filming of Scream. You can probably go ahead and find his name under the credits, but we honestly didn’t have to go that far. According to Shank, Hollywood wasn’t the right place for him to start and run a business, and to him it was the business that mattered the most. He needed the experience to finally decide what he was most passionate about, and it turns out that technology won over film.
The film guy
You shouldn’t, however, think that his love for film was just in passing. Shank has always been involved with film throughout his adult life. In college, he worked at the University of Virginia Television Station while working on his BA in English. He was also President of the Audio/Visual Club and was once the Co-chair of the Student Advisory Board of the Virginia Film Festival. In business school, Shank also directed the Special K Movie.
High school sports
For someone who was big into television and even all the technology stuff, you might never think that Shank would have ever been athlete. However, he played lacrosse in high school and was probably really good at it too. Apart from sports, he was also a member of Art Club and Eco Club. Talk about someone being well-rounded.
As a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Shank is always proclaiming his passion for business. This is the same guy that was awarded top entrepreneur in his class and was once the President of the Entrepreneurship Club at the Kellogg School of Management. We’re pretty sure he’s cooking up a business to start up again soon.
An angel not in disguise
Shank is an angel investor. He currently has 12 personal investments that range in industry and concentration. Some of the organizations he’s funded include Getaround, Apartment List, Omni, Gametime, and Verifly just to name a few. Out of all of his investments, he’s only exited one, Vamo—an event discovery platform for vacation planning.
A fountain of advice
Shank is known to be one of the most knowledgeable businessmen in his trade. He knows the ins and outs of the online travel industry, and he’s well respected for it. Shank is a fountain of advice for many aspiring young entrepreneurs, and he doesn’t shy away from giving tips to those who ask. One of our favorite advices from Shank is this: “You’re only going to learn how to climb the mountain by climbing the mountain. If you really want to learn how to be an entrepreneur, start a business.”
The travel bug didn’t bite Shank until he was in his 20s, but even then he didn’t have the money to really travel extensively. He also didn’t grow up traveling and hardly did any as a kid. It’s interesting to find his future solid in the niche of travel. It just goes to show that you can achieve anything you work hard for without the benefits of predisposition or anything of the sort. Nowadays, the guy can and does travel as much as he wants or needs.
Prince Harry and me
One of Shank’s most memorable experiences after having booked a property in London via Hotel Tonight involves some sort of chance encounter with one of England’s beloved princes—Prince Harry. Shank somehow ended up in a small local pub close to the place where he was staying, trying to fight jet lag. A football game, England vs. Switzerland, had gathered a huge crowd in the small establishment, and Prince Harry happened to be there as well, enjoying the game as much as everyone else.
Hotel Tonight user
So if you didn’t pick it up from above, here we spell it out for you. Shank is the number one fan of his own product, and for the right reasons also. It works for him just as it does for everyone else who uses Hotel Tonight regularly. Shank always uses Hotel Tonight for his travels, and he is quite proud to be able to do it.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker