Two American expats and a Chilean native who experienced first hand the fragmented and chaotic world of travel ticket purchasing in Latin America are on a voyage to bring smooth travel planning and best prices to all travelers in the region.
Funneling their frustrations and learnings, Jake Moskowitz, Roger Robinson and Ignacio Vial developed Voyhoy, a multimodal travel platform that allows price-sensitive travelers to easily compare and buy tickets on buses, planes, ferries and trains from hundreds of companies in Latin America. Voyhoy, originally born in Santiago, Chile, has moved its headquarters to sunny Miami.
To affordably book trips for his clients at his former tourism company while working in Chile, Moskowitz, from Atlanta, would visit multiple bus terminals with wads of cash and sit in line for hours to buy seats on passenger buses rather than pay for an expensive charter. For personal travel, he and Robinson, an expat from Washington, D.C., constantly encountered problems with disorganized ticket offices and struggled to find information online.
The problem: While travelers in Latin America face many options to get from point A to point B, the best option is not easily seen because of a lack of transparent information, limited route coverage and disproportionate ticket prices. Before Voyhoy, this forced travelers to buy their tickets in person or on the individual sites of multiple operators without comparing options.
The co-founders, including Vial, a Chilean native, created a free version of Voyhoy as a proof of concept. After traffic grew quickly, they went all in to develop the company.
Voyhoy, launched in September 2015, received initial funding from local Chilean investors to hire developers and build a monetized version of Voyhoy: “We then simply followed the demand, partnering with the companies that offered the routes with the highest search volumes in Voyhoy. Each time we added a new company, our revenue increased,” Moskowitz told the Miami herald in a recent interview.
The startup was then accepted into a highly competitive Techstars accelerator program focused on mobility. Afterwards, the Voyhoy team relocated to Miami in January, 2017, believing Miami to be the ideal headquarters for its growing Latin American customer base.
Today, travelers can use Voyhoy to buy tickets from over 1,000 transportation providers in Latin America. Its main markets are Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia. For transport operators, Voyhoy increases their ticket sales by modernizing their technology capabilities and diversifying their passenger base.
“We were able to retain and grow our core user base in Chile while growing in other countries are well – that was our biggest takeaway. 30 percent of all new revenue is coming from these new markets,” said Moskowitz in an interview with Platform Miami in January.
Another innovation: Voyhoy developed what it calls “smart tickets,” which allow travelers to buy multiple travel legs under various modes (Bus, light, train, ferry) into a single transaction, saving customers money and time. It’s gone well, and this year it plans to move the smart ticket project from “beta” to limited production.
Vial said 2017 was all about building the infrastructure to scale in Latin America and running data and experiments on each unique market, specific routes and use cases. Voyhoy, now with 16 employees, has grown traffic 61 percent year over year, and with A-B testing and iterations, the startup has increased conversions considerably.
Experimentation will continue and a goal for 2018 is more innovation, Moskowitz said. “We want to continue to think big and truly solve problems that the existing transportation networks can’t.”