Post lockdown, many are itching to get out and explore the world again. The chance to experience snake charmers in Marrakech, vineyards in Argentina and castles in Ireland … all remain a challenge due to Covid restrictions. It is a feeling of frustration, but one that for many, started long before the onset of Covid. Millions are afflicted by conditions that have long affected their ability to travel.
Enter Beeyonder, a virtual travel platform offering global experiences in over 47 countries online in real-time or on-demand. Founded by Boston-based entrepreneur Brittany Palmer, consumers can experience real time tours of over 350 experiences in over 47 countries without ever leaving home.
“As a bilateral amputee myself, I’m uniquely aware of the challenges that those with disabilities can face when it comes to traveling,” said Palmer. “While I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world, we’ve developed Beeyonder for the 40 million-plus Americans that want to travel but can’t, or have limitations due to a disability or other condition. These people, as well as the elderly, sick, and those that are COVID-19 vulnerable, can now bring the world home to them.”
Q&A With Brittany Palmer, Founder & CEO, Beeyonder
Q: Have you seen interest in your site grow since Covid hit?
A: Covid is actually a big reason why virtual travel experiences started to pop into mainstream news/media and how I found out about them to begin with. We launched in 2020, which was an opportune time.
Even after borders reopen and most people find travel safe again, we expect Beeyonder to continue to grow and fill an accessibility void. It is an area of travel that is so often overlooked. We are trying to bring true equal access to travel.
Q: What prompted you to create Beeyonder?
A: The idea for Beeyonder was born shortly after we went into lockdown from Covid-19 last spring. I started seeing virtual experiences emerge. While my disability does not prevent me from traveling, I do have joint issues that prevent me from walking long distances without being in a significant amount of pain. I thought how wonderful it would be to use these virtual experiences to see things I may never get to see in person.
In addition, I thought back to when my husband suffered a brain aneurysm rupture in 2013. There were several weeks in the hospital and months at home of recovery, mainly just watching tv and reruns. It would have been so nice to travel from home and do something fun and different.
After doing some research on who else these virtual experiences might benefit, I found that there are more than 40 million people in the US alone that have disabilities and other conditions that prevent or inhibit travel.
Q: How do you find the guides and experiences that you feature?
A: At the very beginning it was a lot of research and cold emailing, discussing the benefits of using Beeyonder’s platform, and learning about the guide’s experience with conducting virtual experiences. Now, while we still do some targeted outreach, with the press and traction Beeyonder has garnered, we have guides referring us to their qualified colleagues and tour operators contacting us.
We still meet with all of our new guides and operators to get to know them and make sure they have everything they need to conduct virtual experiences successfully.
Q: What is the average price of an experience?
A: Group experiences for individuals average between $15-20 per person, but can be as low as $12. Private experiences are typically between $100-200 depending on number of people and type of experience.
Q: What have been some of your favorite virtual interactions?
A: We have a lot of amazing virtual experiences – over 370 of them! Our Koala Discovery Walk, Ireland Castles, Fascinating Wildlife Encounters, Tierra del Fuego National Park, and Iconic Venice experiences are among our most popular. We also have some very interesting ones, like our Glow in the Dark Virtual Tour. Wendy, your guide, takes you through the Australian forest at night to see biofluorescent and bioluminescent wildlife, fungi, and leaves. Another, because of its location and the technology, is a Virtual Guided Tour of Persia. Your guide, Bahman, uses 3D technology and other tools to show you parts of Iran and shares stories about history, culture, and architecture. A few new and unique experiences we’ve added are Machu Picchu and the Terracotta Warriors.
One of the reasons I started Beeyonder was the hope that everyone can travel the world from home – meeting, interacting with, and learning from people all over the world. I love hearing stories about families and friends living in various locations across the country taking weekly virtual travel experiences together, groups having so much fun with a guide that they later schedule a custom one just to play music together, and seeing stellar reviews from rehabilitation centers as well as organizations that help adults and kids with developmental disabilities.
Founder & CEO Beeyonder
Palmer has a passion for traveling and conducting research for trips, having been to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, South America, and the Middle East. As a bilateral amputee, Brittany has overcome many challenges and looks forward to helping others overcome challenges to in-person traveling.