Gyde and Seek is a journey platform that doesn’t imagine in journey as regular. I confirmed this in Mexico this summer season after changing into hooked on the personalized, socially-conscious personal touring firm that operates in 20-plus cities internationally. When you haven’t tried it, you actually ought to.

Paco is a former skilled bullfighter and ex-Olympic chess prodigy who’s as at house in Mexico Metropolis’s ballet folklórico scene as he takes guests to lucha libre. In colonial Puebla, Maria is aware of the perfect hidden spots for baroque dishes, like chiles en nogada, however her true ardour is tacos árabe. Then there’s Salvador, who will elucidate Toltec ruins in Tula or the Aztec glyphs of Tepotzotlán however can go deep on Chicago blues, too.

The corporate was co-founded by Vanessa Guibert Heitner, a veteran journey planner, and her buddy Andrea Guthrie, a enterprise strategist who grew up residing world wide together with her diplomat mother and father. Their thought was to attach discerning vacationers instantly with extremely educated, charismatic guides in every location however with out giant group experiences or obnoxious worth padding. Gone are the intermediaries and onion-like layers of tour operators who add prices, complexity and potential for mishaps. As an alternative, you seek for the weather of a tour you’re in search of — culinary historical past, road artwork, nightlife, Jewish tradition, and many others. — and Gyde and Search’s algorithm will match you with a information. You then coordinate with that individual instantly, and the information, who units her or his personal pricing, will get the lion’s share of the charge. It’s like Airbnb for individuals who present you the world.

After a really optimistic first Gyde and Seek experience in June, I booked two extra Gydes for August. Mexico Metropolis is the corporate’s hottest vacation spot and the platform actually delivered on my explicit wants: one journey was a household commencement celebration for my son. The following was an extended-family tour of the traditional pyramids at Teotihuacan, situated 30 miles exterior of Mexico Metropolis. The third was an all-day meals tour of Puebla with three hungry teenage boys. In every case, the guides went past the same old ‘right here we have now a cathredral based in 1548 constructed out of limestone’-type excursions. All three guides had been tremendous engaged, deeply educated and likewise simply cool to hang around with, which is essential. Maria, for example, confirmed us the place and precisely tips on how to eat these road tacos she adores, and he or she pointed us to the perfect espresso, chocolate, molé and mollettes, too. The powerful crowd of youngsters had a blast and that’s the purpose: You’re on trip, in spite of everything. You don’t need need to be caught in paradise with a moist rag all day. Somebody like Maria elevates all the journey.

Guibert Heitner and Guthrie video-chatted with me lately to speak about their firm ethos, the challenges of pandemic journey and their hopes for the longer term.

What was the journey drawback you got down to clear up with Gyde and Search?

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: I had been within the trade for a really very long time in a extra conventional sort of high-luxury operation. We had been all the time searching for methods to characterize a vacation spot in ways in which weren’t reductionist or exploitative and that did not exoticize tradition. So, within the case of Argentina, the place Andrea and I met and the place we labored, we wished to seek out technique to run excursions that went past tango and steak. That meant discovering individuals with uncommon views on every little thing from human rights and economics to superb artwork and in style artwork; artisanal makers of all types, historians, scientists, sociologists—clever specialists. I am a former college professor, so the schooling of our guides was actually essential from the outset.

Andrea Guthrie: We additionally wished to supply a service with out it costing as a lot because the big-name tour corporations, like Abercrombie & Kent. This meant designing a expertise platform to handle all of the little ache factors that exist with most journey operators. So, we knew we wished to eradicate all the additional steps and a number of events who contain themselves in a typical tour expertise. The outdated mannequin the place you’ll name a journey agent, and they might contact a neighborhood workplace in Patagonia, and that workplace would contact a information, and every individual takes slightly piece of the revenue, so the prices add up.

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: Not solely does this increase the prices for customers. It massively lowers the remuneration for the guides. There’s no worth, and it takes away these delicate alternatives to let a information do their factor if, say, somebody is coming to Rio and simply actually desires to see postmodern, kinetic artwork.

We’ve had individuals join a day earlier than a visit to say, ‘I’m coming to Mexico Metropolis and need to {photograph} church buildings at night time.’ The information responded and mentioned, ‘I’m additionally an architectural photographer. I’ll take you to see six church buildings tomorrow night time.’ When you had been working with an company, there’s no manner you would prepare one thing that shortly.

You could have round 400 guides. How do you choose them?

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: We’ve traveled ourselves to a lot of the locations to satisfy every individual, or despatched individuals from our employees to satisfy them. We have now a strict standards and reject over 80 p.c of the individuals who need to be on the platform.

What does it take to be a Information and Search information?

Andrea Guthrie: Expertise, tutorial levels, experience—that’s first.

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: There’s a threshold at first. Can they again up what they’re promising? Whether or not they’re a sommelier or an artwork historical past information or a Jewish historian, have they got the credentials and base of data? We interview them and spend time with them in individual so we are able to, you realize, scent them.

Odor them?

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: Odor them. No one likes guides who scent unhealthy. You need their English to be good. You need a persona. You need enthusiasm, pleasure, friendliness. You need individuals who received’t take three days to get again to you.

Andrea Guthrie: You need somebody who’s going to hear—not simply to your questions however to your considerations, and even learn between the strains and work out what makes a visitor pleased and comfy. Paying attention—that’s the primary factor I need.

These will not be simple occasions for journey corporations. How’s it going?

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: It’s been very powerful. We’ve been hit laborious by the pandemic. We suffered a yr’s value of cancellations in only a few weeks in 2020. Planes stopped flying. There was a cognitive dissonance for us—we had been like, how is that this potential?

We have now ten new locations which can be able to launch, together with Peru, Croatia, Finland. The guides are prepared, the profiles are written. However we are able to’t launch them as a result of we’re ready to see how the restoration goes, what’s taking place with Covid charges, the economic system and all that.

Andrea Guthrie: We’re specializing in wins. We had a Swedish household who took their children out of college and traveled with Information and Look for a yr. 4 children, 14 and down. We structured their expertise and it turned an actual studying journey for the household. No matter how issues end up, we’re extremely pleased with what we’ve constructed and the forms of experiences our purchasers have.

Vanessa Guibert Heitner: So many individuals dream of touring however many occasions, the expertise might be disappointing. You get 60 p.c of what you need should you’re fortunate. For us, the aim is one hundred pc distinctive. A tour ought to by no means really feel canned. A vacation spot ought to by no means really feel like a cliché. Sixty p.c simply isn’t adequate.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.


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