Jetsetter is expanding beyond its core hotel business into offering vacation homes with live availability and online booking.
The company's Jetsetter Homes, which will appear under a Homes tab on the site, begins with a portfolio of more than 200 "hand-selected, verified homes," about 75% of which will be available via "instant booking" with credit cards, Jetsetter says.
Jetsetter gets access to the bulk of these upscale vacation homes through partners such as LaCure and Luxury Retreats.
Jetsetter connects to these partners' APIs to update availability, says spokeswoman Kellie Pelletier, and only displays' these homes on Jetsetter.com if they are indeed available. Travelers book these homes with Jetsetter, which is the merchant of record, using their credit cards.
Ironically, like the vast majority of the vacation rental industry and unlike the bulk of the vacation homes on Jetsetter.com, LaCure and Luxury Retreats don't offer live booking on their sites. Their customers need to submit requests about rates and availability and await answers.
For the 25% of the vacation homes on Jetsetter which are not subject to live bookings, users submit requests to Jetsetter -- not the homes' owners -- and will receive answers within 24 hours, Pelletier says.
Jetsetter uses "standby technology" for these 25% of vacation rental properties on the site and owners are removed from the site if Jetsetter finds they regularly can't inform Jetsetter of their vacation properties' availability within 24 hours, Pelletier says.
For Jetsetter, the introduction of vacation rentals, with purported 20% to 50% discounts, represents a continued evolution of the company's business.
The private sales site began with limited-time hotel flash sales, expanded into hotel sales 24/7 and now adds vacation rentals, all based on a commission business model.
In contrast, many vacation rental sites are based primarily on listing fees.
The vacation rentals on Jetsetter are being offered every day, with rates broken down by the day, week and month, and every week five to 10 of the homes will be offered through flash sales, as well, Pelletier says.
Jetsetter's expansion into live bookings for vacation rentals is designed to eliminate the protracted process of communicating through third-party marketplaces or directly with owners, mailing checks and sending deposits to secure a stay.
However, sometimes quietly, it is apparent the sector is changing, especially as it relates to professionally managed properties.
FlipKey, a unit of TripAdvisor, now offers more than 20,000 of its 120,000 vacation homes via online booking in "real time," and a few months ago even introduced a filter where consumers can opt to search for online bookings only, says Kelly Harding, FlipKey's online marketing manager.
And, vacation home leader HomeAway offers some live bookings, including those offered on one of its sites, Clearstay, using the transaction-fee model.
And, many smaller sites featuring professionally managed properties, such as Snowshoe, offer live bookings, too.
The Vacation Rental Managers Association and Pegasus Solutions reached a stalemate several months ago in efforts to develop a vacation rental switch to bring more professionally managed properties online, and both organizations say they are pursuing the goal independently.
Jetsetter's displays of its vacation homes online, as in its iPad app, feature high-res images "stitched together to form 360-degree images," enabling users to "pan smoothly about the room on multiple planes," the company says.
The site also features journalist reviews of the vacation homes and while they obviously are designed to market the homes, they also provide critical information.
In this Jetsetter review of the Casa del Agua estate in Puerto Ventana, Mexico, Jetsetter correspondent Laurie Werner notes the beachfront is "rocky," there is "construction next door" and neighbors are "within earshot."
Jetsetter says it visits and verifies each home in its collection to ensure it meets Jetsetter standards.
At any rate, as Jetsetter grows its new collection of luxury vacation rentals with online booking, the development punctuates the evolution of the online vacation rental industry and the transition to the day that live booking will become commonplace.