New travel agency tackles travel chaos

Upaway was born out of a desire to make travel accessible to everyone and to get out of the chaos of travel.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif .– Trips rarely go as smoothly as expected and while hiccups are to be expected, some incidents can be embarrassing, stressful, and in some cases a little frightening.

Kayla Glanville, a Meyers local, uses her years of experience in the tech industry and her personal travel experience to take the travel chaos away with her new business, Upaway.

In the early 2010s, Glanville worked for Nike as part of the digital team, helping Nike build an online community. She left Nike to join Twitter, where she worked on the travel team.

While at Twitter, she partnered with travel brands to help them use Twitter better. In this role, she began to recognize the problems within the travel industry.

She saw that the majority of trips are made by the richest 1% of wage earners and she heard comments from minorities that they did not feel supported and vulnerable when traveling.

Plus, she saw that travel agencies were stereotypical. They tend to recommend the same experiences to everyone, and usually receive discounts from certain brands, such as airlines or hotel chains, causing them to recommend only those brands.

Glanville did not travel as a child, but during her time with Nike and Twitter, she traveled seven out of eight weeks.

“It was around this time that the seed was planted,” Glanville said. “I was like ‘this could be easier.'”

While on Twitter, she was also a part of the Twitter Open, which fulfills two roles. The first is internal support for employees, so that they can connect with other employees of the same race, sexual orientation, etc.

The second role played by Twitter Open is external influence. While on Twitter, Glanville traveled to Washington DC to work with the Obama administration on marriage equality, championed the LGBTQ community in the tech industry, and contributed to the first trans census.

In 2020, Glanville’s entrepreneurial spirit speaks to her and she leaves Twitter to start her own business. Soon after, COVID-19 struck.

“I was looking around as things were falling apart and I was like, what can we build,” Glanville said.

Glanville responded to a travel survey and two questions seemed to resonate with people she spoke to: where do things end up and what happens when things change?

With trips canceled or rescheduled due to the pandemic, there was no easy way to track vouchers or confirmation and change emails. If plans change during a trip, like canceled flights, airline customer service isn’t always the easiest to navigate.

Upaway was born out of a desire to make travel accessible to everyone and to get out of the chaos of travel. 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,” said Glanville.

There are several things that differentiate Upaway 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 work with all booking sites.

Glanville gave her own example of when the janitorial service was working for her. She was on her way to Sacramento to return home for vacation, but travel delays on Highway 50 were going to cause her to miss her flight. She only had a service bar and couldn’t make phone calls.

She was able to text the concierge line and they immediately offered her three new flight options. Since all of her information is part of her profile, they were able to book her on the flight that suited her best.

No stress, no several different calls and waiting while time is running out. Everything was resolved for her by SMS.

The service is subscription based. It’s $ 50 to have a managed trip, $ 75 per month, or $ 252 for an annual membership.

They also have à la carte services. For $ 5 they will make a last minute reservation etc. or for $ 20, they’ll help with a task, like finding lost baggage.

For free, they will give safety advice like is it safe for LGBTQ couples to hold hands in public or what the tipping situation is, they will also give travel recommendations and quick answers to travel questions.

Glanville prides itself on having a diverse workforce.

“We have a lot of women, parents, single mothers, people historically excluded from travel,” Glanville said.

Upaway will soon be launching an app that will also have all confirmation numbers and booking information in one place, look for holes in the trip, and alert your emergency contact when you have checked in at all of your locations.

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