Launched in 2021, Fora is a tech-powered travel agency that provides
resources to entrepreneurs interested in a part- or full-time career as a
travel advisor. Fora’s platform includes training for its community of
advisors – 97% of Fora advisors had never sold travel previously – as
well as access to a supplier hub, commission tracking and content
creation and marketing tools.
Today, New York-based Fora is announcing a $13.5 million Series A
round led by Heartcore Capital and Forerunner. The financing follows a
seed funding round of $5 million in November 2021.
“People are travelling again, and there’s this real need for travel
advisors to decipher the world of travel these days,” says Fora
co-founder and travel advisor Henley Vazquez. “It’s complicated;
everybody wants to get back out there. Plus there are so many women out
of the job market … and [selling travel] seems like a fun, flexible,
But for women interested in a career as a travel advisor –
particularly in a position that’s flexible – part-time work is hard to
come by, Vazquez says. “Plus [the travel agent technology] is terrible,
and the margins are small. But what if we could address that? That was
really the genesis of the idea for Fora.”
Plus [the travel agent technology] is terrible, and the margins are small. But what if we could address that? That was really the genesis of the idea for Fora.
Vazquez co-founded Fora alongside co-founder and CTO Jake Peters and
co-founder Evan Frank, who previously co-founded home rental provider
Fora's platform for travel advisors comprises several elements: One
is a training programme to certify agents, while another powers bookings
and commissions. Additional components include marketing tools to help
advisors drive demand – Peters says Fora will feed advisors pre-made
content to assist in marketing efforts – as well as a community function
where advisors can collaborate and share ideas.
“Our philosophy is there’s enough travel spend out there that this
doesn’t need to be a competitive situation between any of the travel
advisors in the community,” Peters says.
“We're trying to make advisors’ jobs amazing and make this actually
something that people can earn a living on in a reliable way.”
“It’s a business-in-a-box,” adds Frank. “It’s not just about the
tech, the platform - though that’s a big part of it - but it’s also
about how that integrates the training we provide and the tools that we
give advisors, which are maybe outside of the platform.” For example, he
continues, Fora enables content creation and publishing, allowing
advisors to create their own travel guides.
Since launching, Fora counts nearly 500 advisors on its platform as well as a staggering 30,000 people on the waitlist.
Facebook marketing has been a primary tool to reach potential Fora
travel advisors. The target customer is often “the go-to person for
travel trips in their community or circle … the person you reach out to
before you go somewhere,” Frank says.
“What we found is that is a very specific thing [people self-identify
as] – people who are interested in sharing their travel knowledge one
way or another. But some people want to share that knowledge without
doing the work,” he says.
“It’s not like being an influencer … we really go against that,”
Vazquez adds. “We are really focused on finding the people who want to
be involved and actually dig into planning trips, not just talking about
To assess those on the waitlist, Fora employs various surveys and
scoring systems to determine who is actually interested in the work
So far, Fora is letting in between 50 and 100 advisors a month, but
over the next six to 12 months, the startup intends on expanding its
network to anyone with an interest and passion to participate.
The next phase for us is turning this into a holistic experience for our advisors … building operations to support a so-called host agency at scale.
“We see the future as being much more of a platform-type business
than a host agency that restricts numbers greatly,” Frank says.
Peters says the latest round of funding has validated Fora's
hypothesis. “We didn’t know there were all these people that wanted to
do this, and we didn’t know whether we could make a subset of those
people successful. So we feel that we validated that to this point.
“The next phase for us is turning this into a holistic experience for
our advisors … building operations to support a so-called host agency
In addition to boosting Fora's marketing capabilities and enhancing
its training programs, Fora will use the funding to refine its
operations to support additional advisors and to build up supply.
“Connecting the supply is going to be, I think, the hardest part,
because it’s kind of a mess,” Peters says. “Even if you talk to OTAs or
anyone trying to enable bookings online, it’s quite complicated.”
Fora currently has exclusive partnerships with Four Seasons,
Rosewood, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt and others, but
the platform intends on moving into direct connectivity.
The ultimate goal is to “build something that combines the best bits
of an OTA with the best bits of an agency,” Frank says. In other words,
“a human-powered OTA.”