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Online Concierge: A New Service Shows the Way

– Sponsored content –

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences, an attraction offered through Way.com (calacademy.org)

21 July 2016. Many upscale hotel properties offer a concierge service, where experts on the local scene recommend restaurants, attractions, events, and transportation advice in the cities visited, and in some cases even make reservations. On the other hand, those of us who travel without ever seeing a concierge, probably most travelers, must fend for ourselves. Now we’re no longer on our own; Way.com provides many of those same amenities from our computers or mobile devices.

Way.com bills itself as an online concierge service providing reservations for dining, entertainment, attractions, and parking for travelers and locals alike. Founders Binu Girija and Bhumi Bhutani started Way.com in the San Francisco Bay area in January 2013, and the company is still located in that region at Fremont, California.

The site brings together member customers seeking these services with commercial providers. Registering as a customer or a provider is both free of charge. Signing up as a customer is simple, requiring a minimum of details. Signing on can be done with an e-mail address or with a Google+ or Facebook ID.

As of July 2016, the service is accessible over the Web with computer and mobile versions. The company says a mobile app is in development, and members can request an alert when it’s available.

Way.com signed up providers in San Francisco and a number of other U.S. cities, with New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Houston, and Dallas featured on its Web site. Atlanta and Orlando in the U.S., and Toronto and Montreal in Canada are also in the works. Way.com is signing up vendors as well beyond those cities, which can be viewed by entering the city name in its search box.

The company says a key feature of its site is the ability to bundle a number of related services into one transaction. A couple seeking an evening on the town, for example, can make dinner reservations and book movie tickets with Way.com, as well as find space in a parking garage. Other more specialized services would require separate transactions.

One attraction in San Francisco I’ve always wanted to visit is the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, but never quite had the time during several hurried business trips. Tickets to the California Academy of Sciences are available through Way.com. I picked out a date, and selected two senior-citizen e-tickets (yes, I’m that old), which were additionally discounted from the list price. The shopping cart came up quickly, and allowed for payment with Visa, Mastercard, or Discover card. Deleting items from the shopping cart was also one easy step.

In addition, Way.com has a loyalty program called Way Bucks, which like any reward program, lets you accumulate points for purchases. Way Bucks points are calculated with what the company calls an earn percentage, up to 10 percent, of the purchase amount. Most items in its inventory, says Way.com, qualify for Way Bucks.

Since starting up in 2013, Way.com attracted some 100,000 users in all 50 states. Its event tickets inventory exceeds $2 billion, according to the company, supporting more than 30,000 events. Way.com says as well that it’s the largest parking provider in the Bay area.

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