, the newest entrant in the online Las Vegas travel booking experience, boasts some pretty notable backers. Former Facebook executive Chris Kelly is the principal investor in the company, and Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is also said to be behind Galavantier's mission to offer "unique experiences at unbeatable prices."
"We'd heard complaints from users about other sites and, with this site, wanted to be different," said Marko Greisen, co-founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Galavantier. "We can take a product or experience and tailor it to a customer demographic."
Greisen said the core idea behind Galavantier is to understand the market, properly identify potential users and pair them with products of their interest.
Galavantier hopes to differentiate itself from the online competition with packages offered in limited quantities and by introducing new experiences each week. Most experiences will have guests on their way to Sin City within 30 days of booking. Expansion to destination cities in California, Arizona and Utah is on tap this fall, with additional marketplaces to be announced in early 2012.
"We are thrilled to offer amazing experiences to those searching for quality travel and eliminating the hours of research individuals traditionally spend in planning a trip," Greisen said. "By bundling each experience with select accommodations and desirable activities, we are helping to coordinate an unforgettable time for our community of Galavantiers." Different from the rest
Galavantier is offering several packages to Las Vegas. The Barbie Blowout package includes accommodations in the Barbie Suite in the Palms hotel-casino's Fantasy Tower, entry into the Ditch Fridays pool party, a beauty appointment in Michael Boychuck's Amp Salon and access to Rain Nightclub, where Pauly D of MTV's "Jersey Shore" will serve as guest DJ.
Through the Top Gun package, guests will learn the ins and outs of aerial combat at Sky Combat Ace flight school and party later that night at Club Nikki Beach at the Tropicana hotel-casino. Accommodations will be at the Tropicana, which has recently undergone a $165 million renovation.
The Love Takes Flight package features a two-night stay at the Trump International, a nighttime helicopter ride, spa treatments and dinner. The Golfer's Dream package includes a three-night stay at the Signature Tower Suites by Luxury Suites International and a round of golf at the Dragon Ridge Country Club.
Galavantier co-founder Jennifer Carrico has said that while the company is "excited" to begin offering experiences in other destinations, it's pleased to start in Las Vegas, "as it is a destination that offers infinite possibilities for travelers."
"We want everyone who chooses Galavantier as their travel partner to not only dream about an experience but to live it," she added.
As part of its launch, Galavantier has rolled out a 100 Days of Giveaways promotion. Users can log on to the Galavantier website, click the "Like" button and register to win an array of prizes each day through mid-December. Prizes include hotel accommodations, show tickets, dinners, VIP nightclub access, helicopter rides, spa treatments and rounds of golf.
In addition to daily prizes, all users who become fans of Galavantier will be entered to win the grand prize, a four-day, three-night package complete with luxury suite accommodations for two at the Palms Place Hotel & Spa, roundtrip limousine transfer, two tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, a Maverick Helicopter night tour over the Las Vegas Strip, dinner for two at Nove Italiano, VIP entry to the Playboy Club and access to the Drift Spa.
Facebook fans will have access to new travel experiences released each week on the website.
"We're not trying to compete with Expedia or Travelocity by selling hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms," Greisen said. "We're all about finding quality products at unbeatable prices in a travel destination. We listen to the customer and take their suggestions on products and experiences. We want to be a modern-day travel agent who effectively uses technology." Facebook impact
After 20 years in the local hospitality industry, much of it spent with the famed restaurant/nightclub proprietor Nine Group, Greisen met some of the brains behind Facebook and parlayed those contacts into an online travel company venture in 2008. Last year, he secured an investor to build out the technology for Galavantier, which launched in August.
Greisen said former Facebook executive Kelly was impressed with Galavantier's differentiation from other travel websites.
"Chris was intrigued with the concept because he understood people's frustrations with booking online are getting what they expected: Either the rooms or service was not up to par or there were hidden resort fees," Greisen said. "This site would be something different: We'd offer the best products in a customizable experience."
Rather than focusing strictly on hotel rooms, Galavantier packages what it calls experiences. Greisen cites an example: A customer from California who typically flies Southwest Airlines finds a flight, books a hotel and then decides on experiences. Galavantier can book the hotel and set up the experiences. All the customer has to do is buy the plane ticket.
"If they want to get a flight on Maverick Helicopter or stay at a certain hotel, we can become a bridge between Maverick Helicopter and a property that fits their criteria," Greisen said. "We can bridge products together." The Galavantier experience
Or Greisen noted, perhaps a sightseeing tour took a client's breath away. Or she had the most incredible massage of her life at a certain hotel, feasted on the best steak or played a round on an exclusive golf course. The list could go on forever, he said.
"We can dissect the millions of travel experiences people enjoy and be able to create experience packages to offer each person the vacation of their dreams," he said.
Products and services endure a tough vetting process, and those that meet company expectations get promoted on the website, Greisen said.
"We do the work of the traveler [as] guests aren't always sure whether to trust online reviews," he added. "We have writers who vet hotels, restaurants and experiences anonymously. This provides a real customer experience so people don't have to spend 20 hours looking for things to do."
Greisen said that after Galavantier vets an activity, it then approaches the supplier about promotion. "We don't sell run-of-the-mill products, [and] we're not focused on selling the $69 room that's next to the elevator shaft," he noted. "We will only take rooms that are a minimum of 500 square feet. Then we work very hard to negotiate the best rates possible.
"We identify the companies who provide the best value and best product at the most affordable rates."
While the current travel experiences are Las Vegas-specific, expansion to San Diego; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Phoenix; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Park City, Utah, is in the offing.
Interest in Las Vegas travel has been high at Galavantier. In its first 11 hours, the site logged 462 registrations. Greisen said Galavantier's superiority extends to its operational infrastructure. "I understand people's frustrations [with online booking]," he said. "Expedia may have low room rates, but the site is selling a basic service and not an experience. The head-in-the-bed strategy doesn't really provide value to the customer."
For more, see www.galavantier.com