Peer-to-peer marketplace where locals offer experiences including tours, dining at local homes, and activities to travelers, Withlocals, is making its final preparations for the beta launch of local travel experiences for small groups of local hosts and travelers in South Asia, after raising $500,000 in funding from Greenhouse Group mid September.
Online travel sales to grow by 200% by 2016
Beginning this fall, the beta launch will give groups the advantage of sampling the first experiences with the service and will lay the groundwork to grow the platform.
Co-founded in the Netherlands in 2013 by brothers Marijn and Willem Maas, Withlocals is open for travel and dining experiences in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia where online travel sales are expected to grow nearly 200% by 2016 according to emarketer.
Willem said the platform allows hosts to earn money from simple stuff like cooking their favorite meals, to giving a meditation course or offering an art gallery tour to travelers, expected to eventually lead to 10,000 new locally hosted home dining spots, throughout the region.
Monetize your local knowledge
Like US’s Vayable, WithLocals gives local experts a chance to monetize their local knowledge of their neighborhoods apart from just hosting them. Travelers pay them for their local expertise, for the rooms they occupy and for the meals they share. It’s like your NYC friend coming over to yours in LA, and show them around; only this time they pay.
Marijn Maas explained that the idea for the platform developed into its current form during his honeymoon in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. “After my wife and I had dinner day after day in high-end restaurants, we by coincidence experienced a home dinner with local Sri Lankan people. It was so amazing, listening to each other’s stories, experiencing their way of living while eating the best food of our entire trip. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all travelers could have an experience like this?’ We love the sharing economy and wanted to give travelers and locals in Asia the opportunity to connect with one another.”
For travelers around the world
“Withlocals is well-positioned to facilitate these trends for travelers around the world,” said Willem Maas, Co-founder of Withlocals, adding that research shows consumers are starting to demand more interaction with local communities. There is increasing demand for more individual and authentic travel experiences.