PackLate.com, a new startup that aims to make it easier for people to book affordable vacation rentals online at the last minute, recently raised $685,000 in seed funding from Philadelphia-based Genacast Ventures, First Round Capital, ETF Venture Funds and angel investors.
What the fledgling company is trying to accomplish is to fill a gap in the vacation rental market by building a website where second homeowners can connect with people who are interested in renting a place at the last minute, potentially at a substantial discount (subject to market conditions).
If that sounds like something that would interest you, keep reading until the end of this post.
The idea behind PackLate.com is that consumers would save money by finding and keeping track of good deals on vacation rentals and comfortably book closer to their vacation date. There’s also elements of gaming in the concept, in the sense that users would be competing for the best deals the closer they get to their projected arrival date.
PackLate.com claims a lot of vacation rental markets are currently seeing a mere 50% occupancy during prime season as a result of the recession, and the startup aims to do something about with what is essentially a dynamic oversupply-demand matching service.
Personally, I think this is a great idea, but a lot will depend on its ability to strike partnerships with property managers and attract a sufficient amount of users to make the gaming aspect a vital – and viral – part of the offering.
The service is free of charge for end users, although registration is required (either by signing up for an account or using Facebook Connect).
Normally, registered users would get alerts upon price changes for places they track using PackLate.com, but if you sign up with the code ‘TC_PackLate’, you’ll unlock a feature that ensures you get notified 2 hours before price changes get published on the website (and users who don’t read TechCrunch get to see them).