What's all the fuss about online vacation rentals? PackLate, in partnership with wholesaler Tourico Holidays, has been delivering real-time bookings of vacation rentals at "door level" to travel agencies, tour operators and their consumer websites for a couple of months.
That's the word from PackLate CEO Steve Barsh, who says the company, founded in 2010, has transitioned from a consumer focus on last-minute vacation rentals to a business-to-business operation and white-label distributor of professionally managed vacation homes.
PackLate [see TLabs Showcase] has built a hub -- Barsh calls it a "switch" in a bow to the proposed Vacation Rental Management Association switch -- and connects it to about about a half dozen property management systems, and then contracts on a net rate or commission basis with the property managers in each destination.
Barsh says the hub's integration with the PMSs delivers live inventory and rates, and door-level bookings as opposed to reservations for a condo complex or vacation home community, where specific-unit assignments are allocated on-site.
For example, American Airlines Vacations, a unit of American Airlines, makes some of this PackLate-delivered vacation-home inventory available through an American Airlines Vacations' partnership with Tourico Holidays. In the following image, a condo, Incredible Burgundy Hill in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, is offered via credit card or AAdvantage miles, with no emailing or phone conversations necessary with the owner.
Tourico Holidays, a unit of Travel Holdings, has some distribution muscle: Tourico Holidays operates 150 websites in 23 languages and has widespread travel agency relationships.
Travel agents can book the vacation homes through Tourico Holidays' agent site, although some agencies have direct-connects with the wholesaler and can book the homes on their own agency sites.
Travel Holdings, Tourico's parent, also operates consumer sites, such as Easy Click Travel, where vacation homes provided through PackLate show up under a Vacation Homes tab and are offered in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Utah, Wyoming and several other states.
Most of the bookings through the PackLate system, which currently stocks around 15,000 properties, come from in-bound visitors to the US. Many of the reservations are for destinations in Utah, Colorado and Florida.
Barsh says the PackLate system, which leverages Amazon Web Services and other technologies such as Ruby on Rails, MySQL and Engine Yard, is highly scalable.
In that regard, the company is talking with major wholesalers and airlines, with an eye toward expanding in Europe as a top priority, Barsh says.
Tourico Holidays and PackLate began their distribution relationship in May 2011, although bookings have really ramped up in the past couple of months, Barsh says.
"We are available today and it is working," he adds. "We have proved to the Touricos of the world that we know what we are doing."
Barsh says the VRMA-Pegasus Solutions switch notwithstanding, PackLate wants to become an industry switch in its own right or, as he puts it, the "Sabre of vacation homes."
PackLate has raised more than $1 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Genacast Ventures, FirstMark Capital and ETF Venture Funds.