Y Combinator-backed Vayable launched a few years ago to provide travelers with a new way to discover interesting things to do in far-out locations around the world. The idea was to provide a marketplace where various guides from all over could display tours or unique experiences for sale. Now the startup is providing a way for its users to learn more about the cities they’d like to visit through its new Vayable Destinations pages.
With Vayable Destinations, the startup is providing an online guidebook to dozens of major destinations around the world, including London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Beijing. But Vayable has much bigger ambitions, with plans to provide crowdsourced guides for hundreds of different locations.
At the heart of Destinations is a crowdsourced model that enables Vayable to take suggestions from its guides and users, and gives local ambassadors from each city the ability to sort through and add those that are most interesting. That way, each Vayable Destination can not only be quickly created/curated, but it can be updated with new things to do as time goes on, so that city pages don’t go stale.
The experience is kind of like the guidebooks of old, but online and changeable. So I guess they’re not really like guidebooks at all, except for the fact that they provide users with suggestions for what to do. And, well, those suggestions are coming from locals, who ostensibly should know best about the cities that people are visiting.
Of course, Vayable Destinations is just a hook into the startup’s broader marketplace. The idea is to give users a way to learn more about a city and then, once they’re hooked, to offer some suggestions that might benefit its guides. Vayable’s marketplace lets guides easily sell tours and other unique experiences to folks from out of town who might otherwise have never learned about them. For providing the marketplace, Vayable gets a small cut of the transaction.
In addition to the destination pages, Vayable has also improved the marketplace part of the site. For its guides, the startup has added scheduling, so that they can set aside certain times for tours with clients who book through the site. While there was a way for customers to book experiences on Vayable before, there wasn’t really a way to add them to a calendar. That’s all changed now, according to Vayable co-founder and CEO Jamie Wong.
Vayable isn’t the only company seeking to provide users with new and interesting travel experiences. San Francisco-based startup Peek is also seeking to provide curated suggestions for things to do around the world. It also is crowdsourcing suggestions from users through its recently launched “Perfect Days” user-generated guides to cities everywhere.
To help it compete, Vayable has also closed a seed round of funding. Wong wouldn’t disclose how much the company had raised, but investors include SV Angel, 500 Startups, CrunchFund, and a series of angels, such as former Expedia president Erik Blachford, Scribd co-founder Jared Friedman, Justin.tv/Exec co-founder Justin Kan, Motivity founder Eric Wu, MyVR co-founders Jonathan Murray and Mike Stachowiak, 5A5 Steak Lounge owner Steve Chen, Lisa Gansky, and former YouTuber Christina Brodbeck.