Sometimes I wonder how the heck we managed to book hostels, train tickets, cheap flights and find many other good deals before the Internet era. I remember calling hostels in Chamonix and seeing their prices. As soon as I did my “market research” I would call the best ones again and ask for a deal. It took typically a couple of days to find a good hostel. Today it all seems to be so quick and easy. I recently came across Packlate.com that offers vacation rentals to travelers. I noticed this could be beneficial to HBS readers so I contacted Steve Barsh of PackLate to ask a couple of questions
Hey Steve, what is Packlate.com?
Packlate.com is an online marketplace where you find and book great deals on last minute vacation rentals. We opened the marketplace this winter with vacation rental properties throughout the US Rockies including top destinations like Aspen, Breckenridge, Dillon, Keystone, Telluride, and many others…
Nice. It sounds like many good North American ski resorts are included. Anyhow, Packlate seems not to be the only player on the market, so what sets Packlate.com apart from other travel booking sites?
Packlate.com offers members (it is free to join) big discounts on premium vacation rentals. In fact, many discounts are 50% or more. The way it works is that prices drop as you get closer to the check-in date – so when booking with PackLate, procrastinators win! PackLate customers can closely track moving vacation home rental prices all the way down to hugely discounted levels. Packlate.com also has great customer service with a goal of answering all questions in less than 60 minutes.
How has the site been received by users?
As a result of our unique approach to pricing and rapidly changing discounts, we have recently been featured in a number of US publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Budget Travel, among others. We are also quickly becoming a favorite destination for skiers who are looking for big discounts in North American vacation rentals.
Pretty cool. So Steve, what inspired you to start Packlate.com?
I got the idea after owning two properties in Park City, Utah, where vacancy rates have reached 50 percent during the economic downturn, and finding that I could cut my losses by steeply discounting rates at the last minute. I couldn’t stand a night to go unused. So I set-up Packlate.com to offer steep discounts to customers on last minute vacation rentals. This benefits both the customer (great deals) and the property managers (higher occupancy rates).
Interesting. Thanks Steve!
I tried Packlate by searching deals in Park City, Utah and Aspen, Colorado. I wanted to travel between March 18th and March 22nd. As a result I got 100+ properties with many offering a discount over 30%. Seems like sweet deals to me. I was also able to set “price drop alerts” so I could stay up to date as prices moved down as the check in date moved closer. The one catch is that when you set a price drop alert, other consumers are alerted that “others are watching this property” so it’s a bit of a game that you carefully have to manage your watches and choose when to book so you don’t lose out on your great vacation rental deal.
Are you guys using the Internet to find vacation rentals? Any experiences you can share?
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