The global tourism industry has been experiencing an unprecedented growth in recent days. Appetites for exploring newer and untouched destinations have been growing, even as tourist service providers are coming up with unique service packages. One such refreshing endeavour in the tourism sector has been GuideTrip, that is promisingly new and different, and welcomingly personalised. Founded by Mr. Arjun Sachdeva and Mr. Rohan Reddy, GuideTrip is already going places! Read on an exclusive Interview we have had with the one of the Founders, Mr. Arjun Sachdeva:
The idea of a community marketplace for the tourism industry is innovative. How did you come across this innovative idea? What was the motivation behind starting this venture?
The idea of a marketplace such as GuideTrip was not instantaneous; it was the culmination of a number of factors. The first time I began toying with the idea was way back in January of 2013 when I was managing my first start-up. I realized that every single trip that my company organized required my presence as a trip leader and a travel escort. During the course of hundreds of trips, I made a large number of local contacts and quickly established that there are local people who possess the right set of skills and background to carry the same kind of tours that I was doing, enabling me to act on their behalf as a marketing liaison, so to speak.
Another interesting episode which led to the birth of GuideTrip involved a trip to Istanbul where on a day when there wasn’t much to do (this was my seventh night here); our hotel receptionist became our local host for a night out in the city. We experienced things that you wouldn’t find in travel guide books such as participating in an actual European League Match celebration party, to visiting local taverns and much more. This helped me to evaluate the potential of private tours with local people beyond the scope of just guided tours as well as to explore similar opportunities with local people outside India.
How exactly do you locate the guides? And, how do you ensure their credibility?
Locating guides is part of an extended referral structure. My experience in the travel industry enabled me to get to know more and more local people from across the world. As with many start-ups, the first step is to tap the network that these local people possess. They formed the key to getting GuideTrip its first set of local guides most of whom travelers can get in touch with via our website – www.guidetrip.com.
Each and every local guide goes through a series of checks and references which include at the very least a Skype / Telephonic conversation, three references, an insight into what they want travelers to experience and last but not the least, they put us in touch with two travelers who have traveled with them in the past. This plays on our daily efficiency but every traveler is guaranteed a high quality travel experience be it a guided tour, a photography class, adventure, food tours or even a pub crawl. To put this in a different light, the average rating every guide on GuideTrip has (as rated by travelers from across the world) is 4.83 stars (with five being the maximum).
Who bears the losses, if any, that may be incurred either by the guides or the travelers in the course of touring? Who takes the responsibility for such losses?
There is a very simple yet effective cancellation policy in place which allows travelers to modify or even cancel their trips prior to the actual tour date. In some cases where Guides have already incurred expenses such as transportation or accommodation, travelers are reimbursed accordingly. In special cases such as force majeure, we request travelers to allow for the setting up of a new date for the tour and if this is not possible they are reimbursed in a similar fashion as above.
In most cases this practice of standardization is what has worked for travelers, guides and for GuideTrip thus far. However, we do have a very detailed structure for situations that do not fall under the obvious. These are handled on a case to case basis.
Could you explain in brief how exactly GuideTrip works?
GuideTrip is a platform that connects travelers with local guides globally and to search for and book tours and activities with them directly.
The objective is to help local guides to share their knowledge, dedication and expertise while travelers benefit by discovering hidden secrets which only a local person can know of. GuideTrip’s platform allows travelers to reach out to local people directly via a simple and easy-to-use messaging platform, ask them questions, get tours customized if needed and eventually book exactly what they were looking for. Guides benefit as they are complimenting their business revenue while doing what they love the most.
What are your future plans? Any memorable instances you would like to share with our readers?
We want GuideTrip to be the first thing that comes to a traveler or a guide’s mind when they think of travel. That is the vision. Our immediate focus is to extend our platform to each and every country in the world – from the most visited ones such as France to upcoming destinations such as Guatemala and even regions which people would not immediately think of traveling to such as Pakistan. Imagine every guide in the world running their business effectively using only GuideTrip’s platform.
While there have been a large number of memorable moments for us in a short period of time, perhaps the ones that Rohan and I cherish the most would be the relation we have with each and every one of our guides in the 24 countries where we have presence today. We are not seen as a company or a start-up but as friends and comrades who share a common goal. We believe that it is this mutual respect and brotherhood that will help establish not just us but our guides in the longer run.
One tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t just scratch the itch, cure the pain. Take a plunge, dive in. If you want to start your own company, just do it. Else the tide might just sweep you far out into open seas, miles away from home.
More information at http://guidetrip.com/