Mountain Travel Sobek Launches 5-Day Flash Sale Monday

Adventure travel company Mountain Travel Sobek will launch a flash sale starting Monday that will offer substantial savings on some of their more popular trips. The five-day sale will feature a different discounted itinerary each day, giving travelers just 24-hours to grab the hot deal.

The discounted trips will be displayed prominently on both the company’s website and its Facebook page, although exactly which trips will go on sale remains a mystery at this time. Considering Mountain Travel Sobek offers dozens of itineraries to nearly every corner of the globe, it is possible that the flash sale could send you just about anywhere. With so many options in their catalog, travelers will also have to weigh whether or not they should grab a current deal or wait until the following day to see what is offered next. But once the 24-hour period is up, the sale on that particular trip is over and if you haven’t booked it, you’ve missed your chance.

In addition to the flash sale that runs next week, the company is also currently running a sweepstakes to give away the Ultimate African Safari in celebration of its 40th anniversary. One lucky winner will receive a 12-day trip to Tanzania, including airfare and travel gear, which will send them to the Serengeti to witness the greatest collection of wildlife on the planet. The contest runs through July 18. Enter here.

Although its origins can be traced as far back as 1969, Mountain Travel Sobek was officially launched in 1991 with the merger of two top adventure travel companies. Over the years it has continued the legacy set down by its founders, offering trips to all seven continents and constantly providing customers with exciting new options.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

Jetsetter Purchased By TripAdvisor, What Does This Mean For Flash Sales And Travel?

Flash sale site Gilt Groupe has unloaded its lagging travel brand Jetsetter, which was quickly snapped up by TripAdvisor, news outlets reported this week.

Despite offering a well-respected reputation in the industry for decent flash sale deals for consumers interested in luxury travel experiences and recent advancements in its mobile application with tonight-only deals, Jetsetter has not been a strong revenue driver for the company, with some estimates putting the site as low as 10% of the Gilt Groupe’s overall revenue. In recent months, the site was losing as much as $2 million annually, Skift estimated.

This isn’t a shock – the founder and CEO of Jetsetter, Drew Patterson, was fired stepped down last year. He is now running another travel start up, Room 77.

This isn’t, of course, indicative that Gilt Groupe, which primarily deals with fashion, had a lack of experience in the travel space. The company CEO, Michelle Peluso, was the former CEO at Travelocity.

TripAdvisor announced on Tuesday that it was purchasing the site for an undisclosed amount, although rumor has it that the site was on the market for somewhere between $30 and $50 million.

“Jetsetter is an outstanding brand and I am absolutely delighted to welcome the Jetsetter team to the TripAdvisor family,” said Steve Kaufer, co-founder and CEO TripAdvisor, Inc. in a release. “We are excited by the opportunities this provides to continually help drive amazing value for our travelers staying at some of the world’s most highly-rated hotels.”

What will this mean for travelers? We’re not sure. TripAdvisor also owns SniqueAway, another high-end flash sale site that some would consider a competitor. The merging of the two sites could mean a stronger product, or less market competition overall. We’ll be eager to see which of the two brands remains after a few months, and if this signals the beginning of the end for the flash sale boom for travel, particularly as companies like Living Social and Groupon have reported struggles over recent months.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a note in the comments below.

[Image Credit: Jetsetter]

Flash Sale Buzz: Jetsetter Launches Jetsetter Now, A Same-Day Booking Platform

Luxury flash sale website launched a same-day hotel product this morning, dubbed Jetsetter Now.

Offering discounts of up to 60% off standard rates, the hotel deals will be available in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco to start.

Utilizing a similar concept to HotelTonight, Jetsetter Now offers deep discounts beginning at noon each day. A limited number of hotel rooms in each category are available, but booking, similar to Jetsetter’s “mystery” sales, is opaque, meaning that travelers will know if the hotel is “hip” or “contemporary” but not where exactly it is located or what its name is.

To participate, the hotels must already be Jetsetter-verified (meaning that an editor has personally visited and reviewed the property) and have a member review rating of 85% or above. If available, guests can book up to four nights through the app at a special rate.

Inventory will display as available or “sold out” as hotel rooms are booked. Like Travelocity’s, payment can be completed by scanning your credit card and the app is fully Passbook integrated.

Rob Deeming, general manager, spoke to us yesterday about the application, discussing how it is a logical extension of the brand, where travelers are excited to book verified and reviewed inventory at a reduced price, but are often frustrated that their counterparts offer only two to four-star “mystery” hotels.

He doesn’t worry that the mysterious nature of hotels booked will bother travelers, as he says many are already flocking to the site’s existing mystery flash sales. The opaque nature of the booking process encourages luxury hoteliers to share their unused inventory with Jetsetter, he explains, because they are often reluctant to showcase a discounted rate for fear that travelers will grow accustomed to waiting until the last minute to book.

In our trial case, we “booked” into the Surrey, an upscale uptown hotel that can charge upwards of $1,000 for a one-night stay. Through Jetsetter Now, the price was just $290 per night.

We also loved the scan and go credit card feature, which made booking simple while on the go.

What do you think? Will this new development spur you to book a last minute escape? The application is free in the app store for iPhone and iPod touch.

EveryLodge Launches As First Flash Sale Aggregator For Travel

We’ve covered the flash sale market extensively here on Gadling, suggesting that, within reason, these “members only” sites are an ideal way to help assist in your research. But with up to 20 sites offering travel deals, it’s often hard to remember which site is offering which deal – let alone navigate the piles in your inbox.

New site EveryLodge aims to cut through the clutter with a flash sale aggregation tool for the travel market. The company hasn’t partnered with any of the sites specifically, and says they aren’t violating terms of service as they’re not “scraping” these websites but rather just telling the public about the sales. However, this does mean that it may limit the total number of sites being featured – they admit that there is one unnamed site that hasn’t been included due to terms of service concerns.

EveryLodge is also promising an analysis of flash sale pricing models and trends as new sites launch.

What do you think – will you use the site?

Jetsetter launches vacation home rental service

Flash sale giant Gilt Groupe’s travel arm Jetsetter today steps up to compete in the home rental market with the launch of Jetsetter Homes, a collection of more than 200 carefully-chosen homes around the world.

The vacation rental portion of the site will allow customers to to search pricing and availability in real time, as well as instant booking through Jetsetter.

“As anyone who has researched and booked a vacation home knows, the process is archaic and time consuming compared to hotels, flights and rental cars,” said Drew Patterson, Jetsetter Founder and CEO. “Jetsetter makes the research process fun by providing beautiful photography, including our revolutionary 360-degree tours which transport the user into impressive homes and fabulous infinity pools around the world. And, of course, we streamlined the booking process with instant booking capabilities.”

The homes will be available for rent on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis 365 days per year in the Jetsetter 24/7 collection. Monthly expansions are planned, and each week five to 10 homes will be discounted by 20 to 50% in the flash sale section of the site.

We’re particularly intrigued by this launch because it follows the same model as Jetsetter’s current hotel listings, ensuring that each home has been personally visited and verified by a Jetsetter correspondent, most of whom serve as travel writers and experts on a full-time basis. Reviews note the “good” and “bad” aspects of each property.

Many of the vacation rentals will feature 360-degree photos providing a virtual window into each home. Jetsetter custom-designed a camera to shoot dozens of high resolution photos which are stitched together to form 360-degree images. Unlike virtual tours, Jetsetter 360-degree photos pan smoothly about the room on multiple planes, without choppy pauses and distortion to give users a more realistic sense of what the home offers.

It will also be easy to spot amenities and features most important to renters, like the number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, and maximum occupancy. Rates are conveniently broken down by day, week and month and also per person, for members wanting to share the cost of a home with friends.

In celebration of the launch, more than 50 percent of homes from the Jetsetter 24/7 collection will be 10 percent off until October 12. Need an invite code? We have one here.