When we started Spotted by Locals in January 2008, we had a mission: expanding the worldview of travelers by helping them learn more about the local culture and habits in our cities. We are convinced that a better understanding of different cultures will help make the world a better place.
We hoped many people and companies would follow us, but had no idea things would take off as they have.
In 2008 many people didn’t understand what we were doing. In 2015 Airbnb raised US$ 1.5 billion of investments, almost all travel magazines, airline magazines and newspaper travel sections have at least some “tips by the locals” when they talk about a destination. And we were invited by The Economist to talk about local travel, launched our 66th city guide and are going strong!
We’re proud to be one of the local travel pioneers, but there are many others. I thought it would be nice to do a shout out to some of the great people and companies in local travel we met along the way of our amazing 7 year and counting trip, either online or offline.
I’m sure we are forgetting many…
Airbnb – from eating leftover cereal to US$ 25 billion
In 2009, when Airbnb was working from CEO Brian Chesky’s apartment in San Francisco and apparently living off leftover cereal (check out this nice slideshow about their amazing 2007 to 2015 ride), Airbnb sent us an email asking us for their help to promote their start-up.
Which we happily did of course, by introducing them to the Local Travel Movement, a website we set up together with Ethan Gelber (WHL), Sally Davey (Tripbod) and Vicky Baker (journalist & one of the first Local Travel bloggers)
Right now, Airbnb is valued at more than US$ 25 billion. I’m quite sure the founders are no longer living off cereal and wouldn’t mind me asking you to sign up to this great community of locals sharing their house via this link (we get free stays should you start using Airbnb).
We’ve used Airbnb many times, once even 30 consecutive nights in 7 cities!
Tripbod – sustainable local travel since 2009
Tripbod was launched in September 2009 by Sally Broom from London. It connects locals with travelers who could use some personal help from locals on their trip. The Tripbods – many of them are in developing countries – get paid for every project they do. The clients get a local & sustainable trip.
Tripbod was purchased by Tripadvisor one and a half years ago, but I’m happy they’re still still delivering the same cool service under their own brand name.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sally (and colleague Tim Loonen) a couple of times in London, and hope we can work together some time in the future!
Ethan Gelber – opinion leader on local travel subjects
Ethan Gelber has a varied resume (including Lonely Planet author, travel journalist, tour guide, internet entrepreneur), but almost all he has done in the last 20 years is connected to ethical and local travel. He’s written countless articles about the subject of local travel in many publications. He definitely is an opinion leader on local travel; perhaps you could even call him a local travel activist!
It was a pleasure setting up the Local Travel Movement with Ethan in 2009 (we quit, he kept on going!) and to meet him in New York city.
Localeur – promoting local travel in North America
A few years ago, Localeur launched. It’s a cool app, were any local in many (North American) cities can sign up and give tips to fellow travelers. When signing up, a Facebook tool checks if they really in the city they give tips about.
Co-founder and CEO Joah Spearman has been a great ambassador for local travel in North America in the media and a spokesman for millennials changing travel.
We haven’t had the pleasure of getting in touch with the founders of Localeur yet, but when we launch an Austin city guide we hope to meet them!
Like a Local Guide
Like a Local guide was founded in 2012 by a team of locals in Tallinn. They offer beautiful paper maps, and nice apps where any local who is interested in sharing the love for their city can sign up online and add tips immediately. They’ve expanded rapidly, and now have more than 2000 locals in 189 cities writing about their favorite spots in their city.
I’ve visited Tallinn, and the founders of Like a Local have visited our hometown Amsterdam. But so far we haven’t been able to make an appointment to meet in person. We hope we will some time!
Guidepal is an app curated by locals in many cities around the world. In the app, you can select your favorite spots and share them with your friends.
The company is located in Stockholm, and has raised almost US$ 5 million so far!
Party with a Local
Also started in 2011, Party with a Local is a simple and brilliant app: start it up when you’re online in a city you’re visiting, and hook up to party with locals!
Like Spotted by Locals, the team of Party with a Local is also based in Amsterdam. We’ve been to a few of their parties, and really like what they’re doing obviously. They found some investors this year, and a new version of the app is about to be launched!
Book a tour with locals at WithLocals. Strong in Asia, now also available in Europe! We kind of have tour-o-phobia ourselves, but this is a servide we would (should!) try some time!
EatWith is another great, simple, local concept: book a dinner at a locals’ house in about 15 different cities. Or if you’re a hobby cook yourself: host travelers and let them eat like a local!