Vacation homes and social media worth a million dollars

Did someone mention a travel slump? Second Porch, up in Portland, Oregon, must not have received the memo.

Damned memos.

The new company just picked up $1 million in A-round financing (an early round, for those not of the finance world) which was led by the Oregon Angel Fund. Translation: a few people are making a seven-figure bet on a travel company in a shitty market. And I think it’s pure genius. Now is the time to make a play in the travel market, as there’s nowhere to go but up. Also, Second Porch has a nice social media connection which is not only all the rage with the kids right now (and the Baby Boomers and everyone else, for that matter) but has demonstrated continued potential for the travel and tourism industry.

The premise behind Second Porch is straightforward: these guys want to harness the power of social media to make it easier for you to book a vacation home. The company has put together a free Facebook application – a portal into the vacation home rental process. End-user ease, however, is only part of the plan. Second Porch CEO Brent Hieggelke says, “The typical Facebook personal network comprised of ‘friends of friends’ reaches almost 17,000 people, all of whom can be vouched for by a friend in common. For a homeowner, this is an obvious opportunity to find prospective guests to rent to with a higher level of comfort and peace of mind.”

Right now, Second Porch has only 1,100 fans and 2,450 users … but give it time. A million dollars buys a lot of friends.

Money-men agree on smart destinations

Nobody has money, and nobody is traveling. Yet, somehow, Smart Destinations found a group of companies willing to sink a whopping $7 million into it. The company also picked up $3 million in debt financing, and it plans to use this newfound lagesse to expand its range of products and the markets in which it plays.

I’ve seen (and received) worse Christmas presents.

Obviously not off the cuff, the co-founder and CEO of Smart Destinations, Kevin McLaughlin, stated succinctly in a press release, “We’re obviously very pleased given today’s economy to have additional capital at our disposal.”

NewSpring Capital, a firm in Radnor, PA (I didn’t know they had venture capitalists in Pennsylvania), led the round of investment. It was joined by Square 1 Bank of Durham, NC, which also kicked inthe $3 million in debt financing.

So, just what the hell is Smart Destinations? What makes it worth receiving $10 million? The Boston-based company deals in unlimited admission attraction passes for 15 destinations in North America. Their network includes 425 attractions, all covered by a fixed price. So, if you want to go to the Met and MoMA, talk to these guys.