VIRTUAL travellers on defunct online tour streamer Heygo snapped a staggering 87 MILLION postcards during the platform’s three-year run, triggering a scramble by users to download them all.
If the souvenir screen shots had been standard snail mail postcards laid side by side, they would have stretched more than 8,000 miles all the way from London to Cape Town in South Africa.
A final communique from the Heygo team revealed the plethora of postcards – real time images snapped remotely by armchair travellers linking to the phone cameras carried by local guides.
Heygo founder John Tertan
In a message to users of the platform, set up during Covid lockdown when physical travel was impossible, founder John Tertan said: “Heygo’s mission was to connect the world and make travel more accessible to all, and we are very proud of what we achieved in the three years it existed.
“Together, we delivered over 50,000 tours, took over 87 million postcards, and at our peak, had 500+ active guides on Heygo. The impact of Heygo on the lives of our viewers and guides was truly remarkable.”
The platform, which relied on voluntary tips left by users, closed on April 11 after struggling to remain financially viable in a world where travel has been starting to return to normal.
Everest base camp
Whilst the free-to-join tours were hugely popular, only around one in three users left a tip – split 60% to the guide and 40% to the platform – even during Heygo’s heyday.
And as real travel returned, the numbers started dropping off, with some tours attracting no tips at all, despite a thriving Facebook community of more than 11,000 dedicated ‘voyagers’.
In an interview with investment website Skift, Tertan revealed that much of the $20 million investment Heygo attracted just last year was being returned.
Sagicho fire festival, Japan
“The metrics changed post-Covid,” he said. “There just wasn’t a big enough market for the amount of money that we raised. It’s a very tough decision to return capital, but it just felt, under the circumstances, the most responsible thing to do with the funds.”
Tertan expressed his sorrow at the platform’s downfall in a message to voyagers, adding: “We want to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to our incredible guides and loyal viewers who made Heygo such a special platform.
Read more: Founder’s sadness at closure of tour streamer Heygo
“During the Covid pandemic, Heygo provided a sense of community and support to guides across the world, enabling them to continue working and sharing their expertise and passion with viewers from all over the globe.
Microlite flight over the Himalayas
“We are humbled and grateful to have been a part of this positive impact on people’s lives
“As we say goodbye to Heygo, we do so with a sense of deep appreciation and respect for everyone who made it possible. We hope that the memories, connections, and communities created through Heygo will live on and continue to inspire and connect people from all over the world.”
The founder now intends to take time off to travel and visit family and friends before considering his next move. “I do still have the itch,” he said. “I definitely think it would be a shame not to use what I’ve learned to try something else or to build other things.”
TeamLab art installation, Tokyo
Many of the most popular Heygo guides have banded together to continue providing real time streamed tours at a modest cost across a number of other sites, with tour announcements, a comprehensive calendar and contact details at the Live Virtually – Travel The World Facebook community group.
Read more: Guides to continue live streamed tours after closure
There had been some anger about the lack of notice given to guides of the platform’s closure – they only learned of the site’s fate by email at the same time as users – but in a final thank you, John Tertan shared details of both the new groups to all users.
What an ingenious idea. Wow!
It was sad to see Heygo close, but extremely disappointing to get no notice. All those wonderful postcards I took, it would have been good to have been able to download a few to keep. Not happy about that.
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