VacationSpot Offers ‘Bamboo’ to Travelers

VacationSpot.com, an online booker of independent vacation properties, and bamboo.com, a provider of virtual tours for the real estate industry, announced today that they have formed an alliance.

Seattle, Washington-based VacationSpot said that it will utilize bamboo.com’s 360-degree virtual tours to showcase some of the 25,000 world-wide vacation properties that it has listed on its Web site.

Property managers who list with VacationSpot will have the option of including one of bamboo.com’s virtual tours in its listing, the company said. A bonded videographer for the Palo-Alto, California-based company will film interior and exterior shots of the property and process the film. After uploading the images, viewers can zoom in and pan directionally at the click of a button.

“VacationSpot is an exemplary partner for bamboo.com as we expand our business beyond residential resale real estate,” said bamboo.com founder Kevin McCurdy. “Our virtual tour technology has a proven track record for customer satisfaction and is a tremendous benefit to travelers.”

Leisure Travel is Serious Business

VacationSpot is owned by Seattle-based RezWorks, which was founded in 1997 by a group of Microsoft veterans.

After obtaining funding from Microsoft, Amazon.com and some institutional investors, the company focused its concentration on the leisure travel market, buying a number of small, leisure travel-related sites.

Earlier this year, it bought the WorldWide Travel Exchange, reservations software company WinRoom, and Getaway Zone.com, a ski vacations site. In July, the company bought Rent-a-Holiday.com, Europe’s largest online vacation rental site.

VacationSpot concentrates on independently owned inns, B&Bs and private properties. The company charges a property manager an annual fee or eight- percent transaction fee for every booking through its site.

A Piece of the Pie

Forrester Research predicts that the online leisure travel market will skyrocket from eight million trips and $3.1 billion (US$) in revenue in 1998 to 65.5 million trips and $29.5 billion in bookings by 2003.

Founded in 1995, bamboo.com has forged alliances with many of the Internet’s real estate-related sites. Its tours can be seen on AOL, Netscape Netcenter, Yahoo!, Excite and other portals.

The company filed with the SEC last month to hold an initial public offering. The goal is to raise $28 million.

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