On a vacation, booking a place to stay is just part of the adventure.
OnceThere, an online concierge service, seeks to provide a platform for travelers to book their hotel or vacation rental along with activities and tours once they reach their destination.
The Austin-based startup, founded in January of 2015, last week launched its platform for people to plan trips and schedule activities. The company, founded by a former HomeAway executive, has raised just over $1 million in seed and angel stage funding, according to its Crunchbase profile.
The startup lets a person book hotels, vacation rentals and visit tourism organizations’ websites and apps and even connects them with concierges and visitor center agents at their chosen destination to book activities and events for them.
OnceThere is launching in Austin and Charleston, South Carolina and is working with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau and Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina.
“The launch of OnceThere comes at a time where many companies have tried to tackle ‘the last frontier of online travel,’ which is a $37 billion industry in the US, alone. But those companies have difficulty gaining any real traction because they aren’t focusing their efforts where travelers book these activities today, which is offline,” John Weimer, a former HomeAway executive who’s the co-founder and CEO of OnceThere, said in a news release.
“That’s how OnceThere is different,” Weimer said. “Rather than creating a sexy traveler app, we created a platform like OpenTable but for travel experiences, where for example HomeAway customers may instantly book a tour or activity from its guest app or an Austin Visitors Center employee may easily book a food truck tour for a tourist standing in front of them.”
The OnceThere website makes it easy to track customer bookings and provides one place to manage the conversation between buyers and providers for tours and other activities.
“Each year thousands of Wild Dunes guests ask us to book everything from historical tours of Charleston to kayaks,” Frank Fredericks, General Manager at Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina, said in a news release. “OnceThere makes it possible to instantly book all activities available to guests and easy for us to manage partners through a single interface.”