Some travel advisors are starting to use ViaHero for access to itineraries planned by locals in a growing number of destinations.
ViaHero pairs travelers with locals in Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Japan and Mexico City, with more destinations on the way (New York and Los Angeles are expected to launch this month). For a $30 per day fee, the local will plan a traveler's itinerary based on their likes and dislikes, with a personalized guidebook to use. For an addition $10 per day, the traveler can reach that local via phone and text during their trip for help.
CEO Greg Buzulencia founded ViaHero after his own six-month stint as a travel agent. He found that travelers value local insights now more than ever and decided to create a platform to connect locals with travelers who have similar interests.
ViaHero's locals don't collect commissions. They only arrange travel experiences that don't require a credit card (like meeting a local tour guide); travelers are responsible for their other bookings, like accommodations. Locals provide them with links to complete bookings. According to Buzulencia, the locals are typically tour guides themselves or shared accommodations hosts who often share itineraries with travelers but want to monetize that practice. They get most of the daily traveler fee, while ViaHero takes a small cut.
Increasingly, agents are using ViaHero locals to help plan clients' trips, Buzulencia said. They are "starting to see ViaHero as a way to scale their business." Depending on the agent and the trip, sometimes they pay the daily fee themselves, and other times they pass it on to their clients.
"You look like, for lack of a better term, a hero, and you didn't even have to travel to Japan [for instance] to access that local expertise," he said.
ViaHero has plans to create some white labeled tools later this year that agents can use to help them access ViaHero's locals more seamlessly, according to Buzulencia.