Closure of tour streamer Heygo ‘incredibly sad’ says founder

ONLINE travel tour streamer Heygo is to close on April 11 after almost three years of offering virtual travellers real-time trips in hundreds of destinations for free.

The platform set up during the depths of the Covid pandemic by university pals John Tertan and Liam Garrison has struggled to remain financially viable as real-life travel has gradually returned across the globe.

The team behind the platform explored options to see if there was any way of saving Heygo but in vain, and efforts to sell the operation also proved unsuccessful.

Liam and John in the early days

So today the Heygo team shared the “difficult news” of its impending closure with the thousands of users who take tours, and who have formed their own fast-growing Facebook community of travellers and guides.

“After exhausting all possible options, we have made the tough decision to close the Heygo platform, and access will cease on the 11th April, at noon UK time,” the company said.

“We understand that this will come as a shock to many of you, and we want to express our sincere appreciation for your support and dedication to the platform.

“Despite our best efforts and constant experimentations, we have not been able to make Heygo financially viable in a post-Covid world. The challenging economic situation has made this even more difficult. 

“Since the first tour in 2020, it has been an incredible journey for all of us. We are so proud of the amazing content that our guides have created and the wonderful experiences that they have provided to our users.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, Heygo and the Heygo Guides provided a much-needed refuge to many people from around the world. We want to take a moment to celebrate the incredible impact that our community has had. 

Read more: Virtual travels in the year of Covid

Sri Lanka’s Lion Rock – one of many spectacular sights

“Access to the Heygo platform will cease on April 11 at noon UK time. Until then, our guides will continue to receive tips and sponsorships for their tours.”

Travellers who have shot picture ‘postcards’ during tours are being urged to download them if they want to keep them, and the Heygo Voyagers Facebook group will be archived as a read-only exercise.

During a ‘Town Hall’ online briefing with users this afternoon, John Tertan revealed that 80 million postcards had been taken during as many as 50,000 tours, raising some $3 million for guides around the world, a lifeline particularly during lockdown.

John Tertan, speaking this afternoon

Up to £200,000 had also been raised for charities including the work of the Red Cross in Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of lives had been touched by the platform, he believed.

The necessity to close had been “incredibly unfortunate,” John told an audience of more than 1,000 users, but the company had “really struggled to keep afloat” as the world changed and Covid receded.

It was a “sad reality” that no rescue plan could be found despite the efforts of the team and investors to explore other options – and efforts to sell Heygo had proved unsuccessful.

Read more: My favourite Heygo postcards of 2022

Heygo flew users over the Iceland volcano

“We encourage you to continue supporting our guides by joining their personal Facebook groups and following them on Instagram or Youtube,” the earlier company statement read.

“Once again, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to our community for their support, passion, and dedication to Heygo platform. We know that this is a difficult time, but we are grateful for the memories that we have created together.

“It warms our heart to know that many of you have formed meaningful friendships with other users and guides, and we want you to know that these precious connections need not come to an end. Although circumstances may change, we hope that the bonds you have forged will endure and continue to enrich your lives in countless ways.”

Users even visited the Everest base camp

The company started out under the name Virtualtrips and its first tour was a walk around London’s Bankside in June 2020. The live streamed real-time tours lightened pandemic gloom for thousands of travel-starved people stuck at home.

As well as being shown round by expert local guides, users could make use of a live chat facility, interactive map and the opportunity to take souvenir pictures – dubbed ‘postcards’ by the streamer – which they could keep, collect and share.

Read more: Virtually there – my 10 favourite Heygo postcards

What made it different from previous virtual travel platforms was the high level of interactivity. Guides answered questions in real time and should you wish to take a particular postcard shot, the guide would often track back to make it possible.

Trips included balloon flights over Luxor

Crucially, trips were free to join, although travellers were encouraged to leave a tip, typically from £5 here in the UK, if they enjoyed the tour. The tips were not, however, obligatory, leading to discussion amongst users on whether fees might be introduced.

In March 2021, after notching up its 100,000th user review, it rebranded as Heygo, and was offering more than 250 locations as the roster of guides, who received 60% of travellers’ tips – Heygo took the remaining 40% – continued to grow in number.

Read more: How virtual travel is unlocking the world

In September 2021, the company confirmed it would continue to offer tours even when the pandemic receded, and in December of that year announced that more than two million Heygo trips had been taken by virtual travellers to 450 destinations.

Paragliding with Heygo in Colombia

There was more good news in February 2022 when the company revealed it had attracted $20 million of investment from tech operations including Snap, Postmates, GitHub and Checkout, meaning that trips would remain free to join.

But as travel in the real world started coming back it was apparent that some popular guides were reducing the number of trips they offered because of the increasing face-to-face workload. More guides were brought in, covering more diverse subjects.

Last year, Heygo introduced a programme in which travellers could opt to sponsor their favourite guides after several reported that tips were dropping off, and that they could no longer afford to offer some of the tours they had planned to do.

Postcard from Bali as Heygo heads into the sunset

Read more: Highlights from three years of Heygo travel

Now comes the news that many users of the platform dreaded, although it will not be a huge surprise. Heygo, which was a beacon of hope in the darkest of times, has finally had its day. I’ll miss it, along with the many guides and travellers I now count as friends.

Categories:Africa, Asia, Europe, Film & TV, General, heygo, Long haul, New Zealand, UK Breaks, USATags: , ,


  1. Thank you for providing us a chance to see the world. It was a joy to return to places in my country where I lived to see the changes
    It was awesome to visit places I’ll never travel too.
    Wishing everyone in Heygo, safe travels on their next adventure


  2. There are other businesses like Discover Live who has been offering live, virtual world tours to their customers since 2017 and are growing. They started way before the pandemic and their business model is different. Although it’s hard to see HeyGo go, live virtual travel as a new way of travel continues on in other ways.


    • Discover Live is a private tour platform though and tours are very costly. It’s not the public tip-based platform that Heygo was so won’t appeal to that many people who loved the public nature of heygo


  3. This is an April fools joke, right?


  4. How they operated was not going to last long. There were plenty of opportunities for ads on the website, sponsors, affiliates etc. To be honest, the fact that the tours were free with optional tip, was not something that I liked. There were people watching tours all day long, with no single tip. Even 1 euro obligatory payment to be able to see each tour, would be good. Or subscription. Tips should be voluntary but not the using of the platform. I usually go for free walking tours when I travel, and I see how 20-30 % of people disappear before the end, to avoid paying. They should not be called free if the tip is expected. Nobody’s work should be free.


  5. I absolutely loved Heygo. I was able to travel to places I will probably never have the opportunity to see in person
    I “met” some incredible tour guides and will miss them greatly when the platform closes down April 11. I hope to stay connected through Facebook and You Tube but I don’t think it will be quite the same. As the saying goes ” all good things must come to an end”. But I am really sad to be saying goodbye to Heygo.


  6. My heart is torn. We are going to miss you so much, Heygo. We really hope this Heygo could remain for the longest time possible.


  7. How great it has been to travel places I will not be able to physically. Sad is not a strong enough word to describe the loss of Heygo.


  8. It was a very good idea, but everything changed when the name of the company changed to HeyGo. There were cases of harassment and defamation involving “helpers” of the company, several guides and users with many trolls. Customer service was not good. After you paid tips they didn’t respect you and your privacy. Several users left the company for these reasons including myself.


  9. Heygo was my very favorite app ever. Please let me know if u ever start or find a similar app.
    Thank u for the best app I ever had the pleasure to use. The concept was revolutionary.
    Let me know!!! Please.


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