Take a Tour, Give a Tour
Mar 14, 2012 8:30 am ET
Online sites that offer local tour guides aren’t new. But a new generation of sites are empowering people to become amateur tour guides themselves.
One of the tours offered on SideTour: a drive in a Tesla Roadster electric car in New York.
These peer-to-peer marketplaces encourage social interaction offline and have the look and feel of a daily-deal site. The sites have latched onto the trend of individuals cashing in on what they already possess, including personal expertise.
Jeremy Roberts, the co-founder of one such site called GuideHop, said this trend exemplified by sites like vacation-space marketplace Airbnb has been coined “collaborative consumption.” The idea behind his own site, GuideHop, is that anyone can give unique experiences.
As spring approaches, here’s a snapshot of the various sites that help individuals market and receive payment for their tours:
Users can offer or book a wide range of experiences in a number of cities on this site. Categories include adventure, mind and body, nightlife and fashion. New York City experiences offered during the writing of this blog piece include dining and sailing on the Hudson River, and a tour of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Gowanus in Brooklyn. CEO Jamie Wong said the site enables members to book organically, get customized tours and meet like-minded people. The site launched in April 2011 and boasts 1,500 guides in more than 165 cities.
GuideHop boasts peer reviews and guide profiles. The site was first launched for Austin, Texas, and thus offers the most experiences in that city. One of the more popular activities booked in Austin is riding with a scooter gang. Many New York City activities are run by professional guides, but don’t have peer reviews as of yet. The site was launched in October and offers more than 800 activities.
SideTour offers group events on specific dates. Co-founder Vipin Goyal said the site gives the opportunity for users to have serendipitous experiences with locals. One such experience: An exclusive concert at pianist’s studio in New York City. The first version of the site was launched in August.
This peer-to-peer marketplace originates from Berlin, and boasts actor Ashton Kutcher as an investor. Along with booking tours or workshops, users can soon bargain with guides on customized tours. Co-founder Edial Dekker, a cook for five years, said the site was born out of his need to find a guide in identifying naturally grown mushrooms. “Gids” in Dutch means “guide;” Mr. Dekker is originally from the Netherlands. The site launched a little more than three months ago.