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A new threat to travel agents?


Or just a new type of tour operator?

Start-ups come and start-ups go, you mightn’t have heard of this one though (rhyme unintended). And it’s a novel idea.

 

 

ViaHero has been around since 2016; for US$25 it connects travellers to locals in their intended destinations, who help arrange clients’ trips from making accommodation, tour and restaurant bookings to organising airport transfers. But it can also arrange such things as private drivers and even personal chefs. For an extra $10 you get extras like phone support and tailor-made maps.

 

"It's like having a local friend who has all the same interests as you plan your trip," ViaHero CEO Greg Buzulencia said in an AP Travel podcast.

 

According to the Chicago Tribune, though it’s currently only available in Cuba, Japan, Iceland and Colombia, this year it intends to add Ecuador and other Latin American countries.

 

But the question remains, why pay for work that travel agents will do for free – even if said service is only just over thirty Aussie dollars?

 

For this, Buzulencia has a simple answer.

 

"There are plenty of travel agents out there still and a lot of them are doing a great job," he said.

 

"But I think the intimidation factor is, how do I find one? How do I find one that's good?"

 

Whilst this may be all well and good, ViaHero planners still won’t be able to do such things as cancel or change flight bookings, or really help you when things go wrong.

 

So like most travel start-ups, it has its limitations. 

 

What do you think of this idea? A sinker or a swimmer?

 


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 20 April 2018


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