Most people traveling to foreign countries can account for a series of misfortunes. From being ripped off at every corner, to not being able to know the best way of getting around, to having no idea where the hot spot to grab a drink is on a night out.
Having backpacked my way through several cities on my own, I can testament to all of the above. There’s always that thought that “maybe I’d be having a better time if I knew someone here”. A startup out of Brazil, Rent a Local Friend is working to not have that be an issue anymore.
The premise is simple. Once you’ve planned your next holiday, you visit the site, and the page corresponding to the city you’ll be visiting, and select a ‘friend’ to take you out, see the sights, or even just grab a few beers. It’s all depending on what you want to do, and made to make sure you have company when you do it.
While the saying “love is for free” might not apply here (your guides, and the company do charge for their time), the site provides a solid analysis of the pricing structure, and you can always select from the best deal among various ‘friends’ offering their services. With regards to the pay scale, it lists the following:
Once at the chosen Local Friend ‘s page, the visitor will confirm the Local Experience by clicking at the BOOK NOW button inside the message board. In order to have the date(s) saved, the visitor will be asked to pay a booking fee of 30% from total price via website. The remaining 70% of the total price should be paid directly to the Local Friend at the end of the (each) day(s) booked.
Itinerary and meeting place will be discussed between visitor and Local Friend inside the message board at the website.
Since its inception the company has been growing fast, with accolades from The Times, and AOL Travel among others, along with an impressive five star review from TripAdvisor. It’s breaking ground as an Airbnb for sightseeing, and it’s easy to see why.
Not only do you get to live through the adventures of traveling on your own, or with your group, but you also receive a first hand, authentic trip through your destination, utilizing your guide’s local knowledge to avoid the hassle of being a tourist, while being able to make a new friend along the way.
Once the trip is over, you can leave your own rating of the service, letting future travel goers know about your experiences.
At this point, the single most important factor holding back the site’s future growth could be a lack of supply for what might be substantial demand as the company continues to grow. Major travel hot spots like Istanbul, Milan, Mumbai, and Athens only have one or two listed guides to their name. Furthermore, there’s a noticeable lack of Asian cities, with hubs such as Hong Kong, and Tokyo not available at the moment. However, as a result of further exposure that statistic is bound to improve, offering tourists more options as they get their vacations in order.
The concept though is sound, and ‘Rent a Local Friend’ is expanding its footprint in a market which is still remarkably un-tapped. As more people begin to catch on, I can only see the company (along with competitors which might challenge it in the near future) taking off in the next few years.