Deals

Vacatia raises $5M to restore timeshares to their former glory

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Imagine yourself on a beach, sipping a pina colada with your feet in the sand and a sun setting over the ocean. Vacatia is the latest startup that wants to help you get there.

The company has raised $5 million to grow its online marketplace of timeshares.

Vacatia brings a sharing economy approach to buying and selling vacation timeshares. The site offers deals in top vacation spots in North America. Sellers who aren’t using their stake in a shared vacation property can list it on the site, and reach an audience of interested travelers.

Along the lines of AirBnB, listings on Vacatia include photographs, relevant information about the property, amenities, and costs, and tools to contact the seller. The company said its goal is to bring more “credibility, transparency, and liquidity to the timeshare industry. It works with buyers, sellers, brokers, real estate agents, developers, and resort managers to maintain a strong inventory and ensure legitimacy.

The timeshare industry was hit extremely hard by the recession and earned itself a bad reputation for some high-profile and embarrassing failures (check out the Queen of Versailles documentary about the fall of timeshare magnate David Siegel).

However it is still a big industry. Timeshare sales generated $7 billion in sales last year, which, although lower than peak sales in 2008, is up from 2011.

AirBnB’s sharing economy marketplace transformed the home rental industry and the company is now worth more than $1 billion. Vacatia strives to do the same for timeshares.

Timeshares are generally condo units in large hotels and resorts. Multiple parties share the cost of ownership, and are allotted a specific period of time to use the property. This offers the benefits of owning a vacation home, without the high costs.

The process of buying and selling timeshares is traditionally offline. Vacatia’s goal is to inject vigor into the industry by putting it online, and bringing the latest technological and business trends to bear.

The beta site has more than 10,000 listings and represents over $100 million of inventory. It is working with well-known hospitality brands like Marriott, Wyndham, Disney, Starwood, Hilton, Westin, Hyatt, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton.

Investors include Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, former CEO of Expedia Erik Blachford, and Trulia director Greg Waldorf, as well as hospitality industry vet eras including execs of the timeshare portions of Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott.

This financing will support Vacatia as it develops new products and grows its inventory of timeshares.

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