Off&Away a Penny Auction for Luxury Resorts

offandaway logo

If you enjoy traveling in style and want to save money doing it, you might just like Off&Away!

OffandAway.com is a new penny auction site exclusively for luxury resorts. Off&Away was founded by former Amazon.com and travel industry executives, and backed by Madrona Venture Group, the venture capital firm behind Amazon.com, Farecast.com (now Bing Travel) and VacationSpot (now a part of Expedia).

Similar to Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter, in that they daily offer stays at premier properties, bidders might just be able to score a vacation for significantly less than can be found anywhere else.

gramercy park suite

Just recently, a user was able to obtain a 2 night stay in the Loft Suite, Gramercy, NYC for only $10 in bids,  a total discount of $1,815.20!

Today’s Auctions Include:

  • Hotel on Rivington – NYC
  • Trump Soho – NYC
  • View King Shutters  on the Beach –  LA

How Off&Away Works:

  • Like other penny auctions, users on OffandAway.com have to first purchase a bid pack, bids cost $1 each and are available in packs of 10, 25, 50, 100, & 250.
  • Auctions start at $0 with no reserve.
  • Each bid placed raises the auction price by $0.10 & add up to 30 seconds to the clock.
  • The last bidder up when the time expires, wins.
  • The winner pays the final auction price (separate from the cost of used bids )
  • Then, Suites must be booked within 24 hours.

Positive Features:

  • Now this is a great feature: If you’re outbid, you can apply up to 110% of your used bids towards a room at over 50,000 hotels as the “Web’s best published rates.”
  • OffandAway has a resort booking feature, where users can also search for resorts and book stays at a discount, for this users don’t even have to bid!

cancun

As soon as we found Off&Away we were excited, so we contacted Off&Away’s CEO Doug Aley to ask him a few questions:

PennyAuctionWatch: What got you interested in the penny auction platform?

Doug Aley- Off&Away: Great question. Michael (my co-founder) and I wanted to make amazing experiences accessible for the average person. Pay-to-bid auctions seemed a great way to do exactly that because of the type of deals that result for the winner. And for those who are outbid, there is a great option to apply used bids towards the experience they likely would have booked anyway.

PennyAuctionWatch: What kind of vacations does Off & Away auction? Are they all “luxury” resorts, or do you have plans to expand and provide other options?

Doug Aley- Off&Away: For now, we are laser focused on providing luxury experiences at hotels. We’ll definitely be expanding geographies and the type of experiences we offer, but they will always be focused on luxury/high-end experiences.

PennyAuctionWatch: We read that Off & Away provides a “buy it now” option, can you tell us about that?

Doug Aley- Off&Away: Well, we call it “Book Now” b/c of the travel context, but yes, we do offer this option. You can apply 100% of your used bids towards any hotel room in our network of over 50,000 properties, all at the best published rates on the Web (same rates typically as on Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.). If you book with the same hotel being auctioned, we’ll give you 110% of your bids back. If you are planning to travel anyway, participating is a kind of a no-brainer.

PennyAuctionWatch: We noticed that Off & Away was featured by TechCrunch and also invited to TechCrunch Disrupt. What has the response been so far?

Doug Aley- Off&Away: We’ve gotten extremely favorable response so far, and I think it’s because of the way we approached the business. Everyone at Off & Away has history with companies known for great customer experiences (Amazon.com, Alaska Airlines, Farecast.com, Expedia, etc.). We’ve tried to take what we’ve learned at those companies and apply it at Off & Away. Customers are responding to that.

We’d like to thank Doug for telling us more about Off&Away!

Due to customer demand, Off&Away has recently added daily auctions for New York & California hotel suites. “Our most popular destinations have been New York and California, so we’re making sure our customers can consistently find great auctions in those regions,” said Doug Aley, CEO and co-founder. “We are working towards being able to run one auction per day in every region where we have a proven consumer demand. Expect more regions to be added regularly.”

Off&Away has been offering resorts across the country, including a few in Mexico since launching last month at TechCrunch disrupt,  and they plan to expand to more international properties, including Canada, in the coming months.

It’s not too easy to impress us, but so far this one looks promising.

What do you think of Off&Away? Discuss & review this new penny auction in our penny auction forum!


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4 comments… add one
  • Rob July 5, 2010, 3:35 am

    impressed!

    Ah, what a little funding can do for ya.

    Reply
    • auctionwatcher July 5, 2010, 7:05 am

      Well it looks pretty good, no?

      Reply
  • msoon August 17, 2010, 12:52 pm

    Off and away is kind of a gambling scam in my opinion. I've watched a bunch of auctions and bid on 4. I'm 0/4 so far. It is not easy to win and the glitch is that once you lose, you have a mere 7 days to book your "used bids" into a reservation somewhere. If you forget, or don't have any place in mind, you lose your money. Then, once you've booked these bids, if you cancel the reservation, you lose the bid portion of your money.

    These "book now" reservations, which are the only place you can use your "used bids," don't offer very competitive prices. If you want to go somewhere, you'll find a much more competitive deal on other sites. Finally, the search engine/format used to search hotels is very archaic. There is only one picture of each property and you can't sort according to preferences, etc. It is very tedious!!

    The ultimate downside is how painfully long each auction runs. The clock runs at 30-second intervals. Each time a bid is placed, it adds 30 seconds to the clock. Auctions can go for hours. One I was interested in ran for over 5 hours. Mind you, this is not a 5-hour period where you can place your bid, or even your max bid, and walk away. It requires being pinned down to your computer and constantly watching the clock and manually bidding each and every time. Got a life? This site is likely not for you!

    I've concluded that the process is a royal waste of time and of benefit only to the proprietors who, by the way, are making a killing off this. Given that it costs a dollar to raise the bid by 10 cents, if an auction has ended at a final bid price of 200 dollars, 2000 dollars has been collected by the site.

    Proceed with caution. If you win, it can be great, but for the majority who don't, well, make sure you're prepared to pay a premium for another stay somewhere and be ready to reserve right away into a reservation that gives you very little flexibility to change or cancel!!

    Reply

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