AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Austin-based startup OnceThere today announces the launch of its platform, which is the first capable of distributing instantly bookable tours and activities anywhere people look for things to do while planning trips and traveling. The OnceThere™ platform plugs every type of travel experience directly into distribution channels such as hotels, vacation rentals and tourism organizations’ websites and apps and on-premise with concierges and visitor center agents who book on behalf of travelers.
OnceThere has already signed its first supply and distribution channel partners -- making real-time availability data for 200 experiences, ranging from walking tours in Charleston to bike rentals in Austin -- bookable to guests of vacation rental giant HomeAway, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Wild Dunes Resort, A Destination Hotel, 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,” says John Weimer, a former HomeAway executive who’s the co-founder and CEO of OnceThere.
“That’s how OnceThere is different,” Weimer says. “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.”
Weimer says that facilitating online bookings through agents who interact with travelers is meaningful for businesses. For example, nine of 10 tours sold for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau occur via calls or walk-ups at its Visitor Center, instead of via its website.
The OnceThere online interface also simplifies the tracking and reconciliation of customer bookings, communication with providers and buyers and overall management of tour and activity providers, which is historically a pain point for organizations.
“Each year thousands of Wild Dunes guests ask us to book everything from historical tours of Charleston to kayaks,” says Frank Fredericks, General Manager at Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. “OnceThere makes it possible to instantly book all activities available to guests and easy for us to manage partners through a single interface.”
OnceThere is dedicated to solving the last frontier of online travel - the tours and activities space - by creating a platform that distributes instantly bookable experiences anywhere people look for things to do while on vacation. The OnceThere™ platform directly plugs tours, activities and rentals into the websites and apps of hotels, vacation rentals and tourism organizations and on-premise with concierges and visitor center agents who book on behalf of travelers.
The company was co-founded in Austin, TX by former HomeAway executive John Weimer and John Spencer, a former sales executive at Vignette Software and entrepreneur who later started two outdoor experience companies. Its investors include HomeAway co-founder Carl Shepherd and former HomeAway Chief Product Officer Tom Hale.