The power of going local

Oct 04, 2013, 07:02 IST | Soma Das is a free platform meant for locals who would like to showcase their local culture to travellers and start their own travel or local guiding business. Travellers can log on and get access to a directory of local guides who can help guide them on their trips

One of the best ways to discover a city is when a local shows you around, far away from the overhyped, ‘touristy’ spots. Be it scouting for the perfect spot to catch sunrise at Taj Mahal, the monument or a shop selling rare puppets in Rajasthan or a curio market in lesser-known Delhi, might be your best bet. The portal aims to help you turn a local guide for out-of-towners as well as find the right people to guide you.

The site aims to help you know the little known facts of the city from its locals. Shown above is Chawri Bazar, Delhi’s wholesale market of food and vegetables 

Localistas’ spokesperson Gaurav Salvi shares, “The main idea was to help travellers to experience the city they travel in, discover local things and experience an off-the-beaten-track holiday. We also wanted to help locals showcase their cities through fun activities and earn a livelihood by doing so.” The site has a section for locals to list their profiles under the city of their residence and a section for tours that they offer. The site was founded by a husband-wife duo who chose to remain anonymous. Both are children of retired Indian Naval aviators and have travelled extensively around India. They spent nearly two years researching travel sites in India and worldwide, seeking unique things to do and experiences.

Screenshot of the website

How does it work?
They don’t charge a fee to book or connect and act merely as a referral site with a social interaction platform. After registration, one can showcase their profile and share unique tours. No charges are levied for listings. Travellers can connect directly, exchange emails and contact information with the local guides. The site also allows a user to network and build a rapport with a local, well before they set out on the actual journey. For security, there is an option to check other travellers’ feedback and then decide. Since the log-in process is integrated with Facebook, a traveller can also look up the local guide’s Facebook profile to establish their credentials. Nearly 1,000 sign ups were registered in the first month. They intend to expand the network to amateur local guides and hobbyists. A guest can network and connect with several guides across the city of their choice for help on trips or network with friendly locals. “Localistas wanted to reach out directly to locals worldwide instead of resorting to well-packaged travel and tour companies,” adds Salvi. Localistas has a database of over 1,000 local guides and tour operators across the country along with a directory of approximately 15-20 cities in India.

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