Co-founded by onefinestay’s Evan Frank, Indagare vet and Virtuoso agency owner Henley Vazquez, and entrepreneur and technologist Jake Peters, Fora launches today to modernize the traditional agency model, bringing a new generation of entrepreneurs into the industry.
Travel agencies are a $100 billion market in the U.S., with those numbers continuing to grow post-pandemic. Fora’s new platform acts as a foundation for anyone to work in the industry and sell travel—complete with cohort training sessions, elevated advisor profiles, content authoring tools and negotiated rates at the world’s top hotels. It provides a built-in community of advisors who can enjoy perks together such as exclusive access to new property openings or exclusive destination events. The goal is to provide the components that creators, influencers and stay-at-home parents need to start a successful travel business. With Fora’s support, Gaya Vinay, the company’s first advisor, has booked over $200,000 in travel alone.
“We love the travel agent industry. But in its current form, it’s hard to break in as an outsider and there’s limited technology to truly help agents build successful businesses. We reexamined all aspects of the traditional agency model with 2021 eyes – creating a robust platform that empowers individuals to earn flexible income selling travel and creating trips, while leveraging best-in-class tools and new ways of thinking,” said Evan Frank, co-founder of Fora and former co-founder of luxury homesharing company, onefinestay. “We’re on a mission to empower stay-at-home parents, freelancers, creators and side hustlers to earn income and reap the benefits of this rewarding industry, while simultaneously being a part of a wonderfully supportive community.”
Despite its perception as outdated, tech-backward and uninviting to newcomers, the market for travel agents is growing and demand has now reached pre-pandemic levels. According to a poll conducted by the American Society of Travel Advisors, 76 percent of travel advisers are seeing an increase in customers in 2021, compared to before the pandemic. 80 percent are hearing from travelers who have never worked with a travel advisor before.
“Many consumers don’t realize the value of booking through a travel agent; you get the best price, freebies, upgrades and added expertise. We expect that the pent-up demand for travel post-pandemic will accelerate Fora’s trajectory and growth from the beginning,” said Fora co-founder Henley Vazquez. “We’re in the midst of a revolution that’s all about flexibility with everything from your day-to-day job, to business and leisure travel and more. We want anyone and everyone with a passion for travel to earn money creating and selling travel experiences.”
Recently, Fora closed a $5 million seed round led by Forerunner Ventures with participation from leading consumer investors including Heartcore Capital and Uncommon Capital, as well as leading consumer entrepreneurs including Katrina Lake, Gokul Rajaram, Ran Makavy and Ben Rubin. Fora will use the investment to successfully onboard new advisors and help travelers have universally memorable experiences in a world where travel is increasingly unpredictable.
“At Forerunner, we’re inspired by founders that empower individuals to turn their passions into thriving businesses,” said Brian O’Malley, General Partner at Forerunner Ventures. “With the reemergence of travel post COVID, Fora is well-positioned to become the leading brand for travelers looking for unique experiences and trusted guidance along the way.”
The pandemic has had a devastating effect on employment overall, but especially on working moms. According to Census Bureau data, about 3.5 million mothers living with school-age children lost their jobs, took leave or left the labor market when COVID-19 hit last year. In particular, the female workforce participation has already dropped to 57% – the lowest level since 1988. A business model like Fora’s will empower women and those that have suffered throughout the pandemic to join the workforce again.
Fora sits at the intersection of the desire for flexible, remote work and the sharing economy, as well as the consumer’s longing to re-engage in both domestic and international travel. With vaccines underway, travel continues to be on an upswing, which is another reason travel agents are in high demand. In a year where the level of complexity to book travel is high, people turn to travel advisors to ensure everything is seamless—from entry requirements, where to eat and daily adventures. In the current travel climate, advisors must have an understanding of travel rules that are changing daily. Fora advisors will do just that—be an advocate, offer professional advice and provide clients with a broader picture of their trips.
For more information, visit www.foratravel.com.
Fora sits at the intersection of the desire for flexible, remote work and the sharing economy, as well as the consumer”s desire to re-engage in both domestic and international travel. The company is transforming the $100 billion travel agency by welcoming a new generation of entrepreneurs to the industry and empowering them with elevated advisor profiles, content authoring capabilities, a community and supplier hub, cohort training sessions and marketing tools. The company aims to provide the components these creators, influencers and stay-at-home parents need to start an agency business, including beautiful websites, marketing automation, and community, as well as client perks that have been historically only offered to industry insiders. For more information, visit www.foratravel.com.