Gyde and Seek aims to enhance travel
In a city that thrives off national and international tourists, Andrea Guthrie wants to increase the tourist experience beyond Park City’s borders. Her new website, Gyde and Seek, aims to flip the tourism world on its head and give power back to the individual.
Guthrie, a Park City resident, and her business partner and longtime friend, Vanessa Guibert Heitner, launched the tourism website last year. Gyde and Seek connects tourists directly to tour guides who are selected by the Gyde and Seek staff.
“There is really exceptional talent that, up until now, has frankly been pretty hard to access unless you go through a traditional travel agent,” Guthrie said. “We are trying to open and democratize it in order to get a much broader group of people access.”
Gyde and Seek opened in 2016 and has six international locations on its site with 12 to 15 guides at each location. Two more locations, in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and Prague, are scheduled to become available soon. The guides range in knowledge and expertise, from general tour guides to chefs that bring tourists deep into the culinary scene.
The business aims to help both tourists and tour guides, Guthrie said. Guides determine their own price and receive 100 percent of the funds. A 15 percent surcharge is tacked onto the overall price from using the service Gyde and Seek.
“The guides set their own rates and that’s what they get paid,” she said. “It’s that simple.”
She said that helping tour guides was one of the reasons Heitner and Guthrie came up with the idea for the business. The two met in high school while attending a school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The U.S.-born teens quickly became friends and, over the years, fell in love with travel. Heitner worked in the travel industry in Latin America for several years while Guthrie worked in consulting and retail, traveling any chance she could.
Combining their desire to stop what they perceived as the exploitative business of tour guides and help travelers have better experiences, Gyde and Seek was born.
Although Heitner and the rest of the team work remotely, Guthrie said that it has been helpful for her to be in Park City, where there are many entrepreneurs to learn from and network with.
Guthrie is involved in the collaborative working space of PandoLabs, and she said that she gets emotional support and advice inside the peer-to-peer group as she manages the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
But so far, Guthrie said that business has been doing well. They have clients from around the U.S. and Canada, including a handful from Park City, and the majority rated the guides with five stars. Plus, clients have said they enjoy the ability to directly select and message the tour guides instead of working with a middle man throughout the process.
“People want to get onto computers and they want to do it themselves,” Guthrie said. “They want to see all of the information and have visibility and transparency in pricing.”
She said that the movement is similar to one that took place in the last decade in the lodging, airline and transportation industries. Now, individuals are able to plan every part of their trip on their own.
With many people planning last minute trips on other sites, Gyde and Seek has found a special niche helping that audience.
“We see people who are getting on a plane with a family of four and haven’t planned anything,” she said. “At least half of our bookings have been very short notice.”
Guthrie said that Gyde and Seek will continue to expand into new markets in the coming year, ultimately aiming to be a global business. It’s not hard to convince the team to jump on a plane and hang out with tour guides and experience a city for a couple of weeks, since Guthrie said they all love seeing their clients have experiences they will remember.
“The most rewarding thing to me is when I read that feedback and I recognize that we have transformed someone’s experience,” she said. “They have gotten a much richer and more wonderful experience in that particular destination than they would have on their own.”
Gyde and Seek
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