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.

Jetsetter launches iPad app

The media darling of the travel flash sale industry, Jetsetter, has jumped on the iPad bandwagon and announced the launch of their new free App, available today in the App Store. We’ve long loved this site for its stunning visual array of images and editorial-like features about each sale destination, and are sure that the brand’s debut in the iPad world will be a hit.

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Jetsetter’s engineering team custom-designed a camera to shoot dozens of high resolution photos which are stitched together to form immersive 360-degree images.

Like a futuristic magazine cover, the app’s title screen features 360-degree panoramic images that responds to a tap The homepage prominently features a rotating slide show of hotels on sale as well as vacation “collections” that span themes like Vacation Like Royalty, Top New York Hotels, Caribbean Sunsets, and Weekend Getaways.

A news ticker at the bottom of the homepage that displays what other Jetsetter members are purchasing. The app also uses iPad 2’s gyroscope to map the orientation of the iPad to Jetsetter’s 360 degree photos. For instance, when the user moves iPad to the left, it senses the change of direction and the photo pans left.

Pretty cool! We’re all for websites creating added-value apps for their current array of offerings. Plus, anything that makes us feel like we’re actually at the property will likely aid in booking.

Not yet a member? Join Jetsetter via this link.

Daily Pampering: Luxury shopping at 35,000-feet

Don’t you just hate it when you realize your favorite Chloe bag is at home, and you’re 35,000 feet in the air? Good news fashionistas: the savvy shoppers at Virgin America have found a way to ensure you aren’t without your favorite luxe items.

Virgin America and Gilt Groupe, the invitation-only online shopping site featuring hundreds of luxe-designers, have partnered to provide travelers with bonus Elevate points for shopping in style.

Here’s how it works: Make a purchase on Gilt Groupe using your Elevate number and receive 500 bonus points towards your Elevate Frequent Flier program with Virgin America. After 30 days from your purchase, members will get 500 bonus points. Thereafter, you’ll get 250 Elevate bonus points per $250 purchase.

Gilt Groupe offers Men’s, Women’s and Children’s favorite fashion and luxury brands at up to 70 percent off retail prices. Membership is free, so it won’t cost you to join. Gilt publishes new sales and designers on a daily basis and you have 36 hours to buy from that sale. You can check out the designers and upcoming sales during the preview period (usually a few days before the sale opens) and start picking your items.

Word to the wise from this Gilt Groupe shopper:
Get online early and grab your item! It’s a first-come, first-served site so when the item is gone, it’s gone for good.

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