New digital marketplace for agencies launched
A new digital marketplace aiming to become the go-to platform for commission-based agencies to connect with quality vendors in accommodation, transport and activities for international students is preparing to launch later in January.
Through Vayasi, agents will be able to create quotes for student services such as residence, homestay, excursions, transportation and insurance.
The student then receives the quote and is able to rank available options by preference, before being prompted for partial payment (including agent commission) to secure the reservation.
“We hope to be able to expand to other countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia”
The agent and vendor are also able to communicate through the platform’s message centre, and are paid automatically via the platform upon the student’s arrival.
Based in Los Angeles, Vayasi is the brainchild of CEO Paul Suhr, who told The PIE News that to date, the interest from agencies in the platform has been “overwhelming”.
“We are onboarding select agents for our current beta phase and receiving valuable feedback on how the platform helps them help their students,” he told The PIE.
Suhr explained that after working as a director at various ESL schools for more than a decade he became frustrated with the general process by which services are requested, paid, and delivered to students.
“Much of everything is still done manually, and when we add the complexities of various time zones, language barriers, and multiple ‘middlemen,’ the need to allow for technology to improve the entire process became evident to me,” he said.
“Just looking at housing alone, agencies spend a disproportionate amount of time on this and typically do not get any commission. [This] platform will give them a wide range of locations and prices.
“[Agents] also love that they can book a number of weekend excursions and airport pickup pre-arrival for their students,” he added.
From the student perspective, Suhr continued, they have the overall impression that their agent has an extensive network of service providers with whom they work and that their agent was able to get them a cheaper price than if they were to book things through the school.
And while the platform will initially target the US market, Suhr said he intends for Vayasi to become the platform that every commission-based agency uses when sending their students abroad.
“By the end of the year, we hope to be able to expand to other countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia,” he added.