New travel company tackles trip chaos
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Rarely does travel go as perfectly as planned and while hiccups are to be expected, some mishaps can be inconvenient, stressful and in some cases, a little scary.
Meyers local Kayla Glanville is using her years of experience in the tech industry and personal experience with traveling to take away trip chaos with her new company, Upaway.
In the early 2010s, Glanville worked for Nike on the digital crew, helping Nike build community online. She left Nike to join Twitter, where she worked on the travel team.
During her time at Twitter she partnered with travel brands to help them better utilize Twitter. In that role, she started to recognize issues within the travel industry.
She saw that the majority of travel is done by the top 1% of wage earners and she heard feedback from minorities that they didn’t feel supported and felt vulnerable while traveling.
In addition, she saw that travel agencies were formulaic. They tend to recommend the same experiences to everyone and usually receive kick-backs from certain brands, such as airlines or hotel chains, which incentivizes them to only recommend those brands.
Glanville didn’t travel as a child but during her time at Nike and Twitter, she traveled seven out of every eight weeks.
“It was during that time the seed was planted,” Glanville said. “I thought, ‘this could be easier.’”
While she was at Twitter, she also was part of Twitter Open, which serves two roles. The first is internal support for employees, so they can connect with other employees of the same race, sexual orientation, etc.
The second role Twitter Open plays is external influence. During her time at Twitter, Glanville traveled to Washington D.C. to work with the Obama Administration on marriage equality, advocated for the LGBTQ community within the tech industry and helped take the first trans census.
In 2020, Glanville’s entrepreneurial spirit was speaking to her and she quit Twitter to start her own company. Shortly after that, COVID-19 hit.
“I was looking around while things were crumbling and saying, ‘what can we build,’” Glanville said.
Glanville took a survey about travel and two questions seemed to resonate with the people she spoke to, where are things landing and what happens when things change?
With trips being canceled or rescheduled because of the pandemic, there was no easy way to track vouchers or confirmation and change emails. If plans change mid-trip, like flights getting canceled, airline customer service isn’t always the easiest to navigate.
Upaway was born out of a desire to make travel accessible to everyone and take chaos out of traveling. Upaway is a modern travel concierge company, which uses real people to book trips and solve problems in real time.
“Our job is to act on your behalf,” Glanville said.
There are several things that make Upaway different from traditional travel agencies. Their concierge service is available 24/7 and customers are always immediately connected with a real person. They don’t make commissions and they work with all booking sites.
Glanville gave her own example of when the concierge service worked for her. She was traveling to Sacramento to fly home for the holidays but travel delays on Highway 50 were going to cause her to miss her flight. She only had one bar of service and couldn’t make any phone calls.
She was able to text the concierge line and they immediately gave her three new flight options. Since all her information is part of her profile, they were able to rebook her on the flight that worked best for her.
No stress, no making several different calls and waiting on hold while time is of the essence. It was all solved for her via text.
The service is subscription based. It’s $50 to have one trip managed, $75 a month or $252 for an annual subscription.
They also have al a carte services. For $5, they will make a last minute reservation, etc or for $20 they will help with one task, such as finding lost luggage.
For free, they will give safety tips, such as is it safe for LGBTQ couples to hold hands in public or what is the tipping situation, they also give travel recommendations and quick answers to trip questions.
Glanville prides herself in having a diverse workforce.
“We have a lot of women, parents, single-moms, people historically excluded from travel,” Glanville said.
Upaway will be soon launching an app that will also hold all confirmation numbers and booking information in one place, look for holes in travel and alert your emergency contact when you’ve checked in to all your locations.
To learn more, visit https://www.upaway.app/concierge.
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