Are travellers finally ready for an Airbnb of local experiences

Getyourguide tried it first (probably) and it didn’t work but there’s increasing evidence, supported by Airbnb’s recent purchase of Trip4real that travellers might, finally, be.

Travel, and city travel in particular is, despite all the online research and social media tools, still not living up to our expectations. Most of us still plan a few things last minute and then end up doing a lot less than we wanted and many more touristy things than we would have liked. Most of us cry out for an authentic experience personalised to our tastes. Despite all this, there still seems to be a reluctance and almost a suspicion of sites that promise to change this.

Perhaps it’s because many people are inherently shy or want their own space or don’t really get what’s on offer or trust it and would still prefer to do a bus tour or go around the latest overpriced attraction because they know what they’re getting. I’m not sure. But I am sure that this has to be something that travellers will love in the right format. It has to be because what really could be better (when you don’t have a friend to do it for you) than getting advice or being shown around by a like-minded local who shares similar interests, background, language or culture. It has to be much much superior to a guide book or rigid tours that lack personalization and cover the same old stuff.

Most of the companies that are in this market (Vayable, Trip4Real, Touriocity etc) use a specific experience like cheese making with a local in France for example. I’m not sure about that myself, that does not appeal as it smacks of something staged and repeatable and not particulary unique or spontaneous.

What I think might work better is to focus on the Locals themselves. Build out their profiles, let people really get to know them through images, video, social media and their own description. Help travellers feel that they know them and are pretty confident that they will like the person they select. This way they get a truly unique experience and advice from someone like them.

The race is on.

I’m sure enough of this to drop my banking career for a business I really truly believe in, CityUnscripted, the signs so far are really positive. What do you think?