Gilt Groupe has been in expansion mode for some time now. The company has its fingers in many pies, including luxury travel. Gilt Groupe‘s luxury travel arm Jetsetter has been providing high-end hotel and resort bookings using the flash sales method since 2009. In 2011, Gilt brings luxury vacation home rentals under its ambit. The company’s recently launched Jetset Homes allows high-end travelers to sift through an array of 200 beautiful luxury homes. The rentals are a tad expensive. Jetset Homes’ current portfolio includes Richard Branson’s ultra-expensive Necker Island estate. The 14-bedroom island mansion is up for grabs at Jetsetter’s vacation home rentals section. Members can book the property for a discounted rate of $54,000 a night.
The sum may be a bit much for most travelers, even the wealthier ones. However, Jetset Homes offers a range of less expensive options as well. The members-only service from Jetsetter also provides luxury vacation home rentals within $5,000 a night. In fact, less finicky patrons could attempt to grab the cheapest deal currently on offer – a luxury villa in Crete that costs a mere $310 per night. Of course, Jetset Homes is not the sole player in the market for luxury vacation home rentals. However, according to Jetsetter chief executive Drew Patterson, Jetset Homes is different from rivals like HomeAway and Airbnb.
Patterson compares rival groups HomeAway and Airbnb to the likes of Craigslist and Yellow Pages. The strong inventory on these sites is commendable, but a site that deals in luxury vacation home rentals should have more to offer. Jetset Homes will be hoping to fill in the gaps. The luxury rental service has some things in place. The high prices and luxury properties should draw wealthy customers. However, Jetsetter will also be looking to avoid the problems faced by rival sites.
A case in point is Airbnb. Earlier this year, some homeowners attached to Airbnb had reported that vacationers had trashed their properties during the summer holidays. HomeAway has not been free of controversy either. VRBO, a site under the HomeAway umbrella, essentially connects homeowners with guests without getting involved with the transaction process. As a result, there have been problems faced by both guests and homeowners. While guests occasionally complain that homeowners are unable to get the properties ready in time, lost cheques and missed payments plague homeowners.
The Jetset Homes model aims to eliminate these issues. Rather than be content being the middleman, Jetset Homes is involved every step of the way. The vacation home rental service has employed staff to inspect listed properties, take photographs and enlist professional travel writers to review the homes. Jetsetter also takes care of processes relating to finance and logistics. Currently, 75 percent of featured homes show real time availability. In time, Jetset Homes plans to extend this to all homes in its portfolio.
However, Jetset Homes has far to go if it wants to eat into the market of HomeAway and Airbnb. While Airbnb has presence in over 18,000 cities around the world, HomeAway has 14,000 luxury properties. Compared to these numbers, Jetset Homes’ 200 properties seems trifling. The new site on the block has its work cut out.
Via: The New York Times