ToursByLocals is celebrating a year of accelerated growth in its tour offerings. At its launch in November 2008, the company featured tours in just two countries: Canada and Russia. Three years of rapid, successful growth means ToursByLocals now offers travelers access to 966 independent guides offering 4713 tours in 104 countries around the world.
Happy travelers have been sharing their experiences on TripAdvisor.com, who recently awarded ToursByLocals a “TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence” which honors top-rated lodging businesses, restaurants and attractions, as reviewed by travelers on the world’s largest travel site.
Whether a traveler wishes to explore Eastern Europe, Patagonia, South Africa or New York City – or any other region in the 104 countries represented by the company’s independent guides – ToursByLocals has a local expert eager to customize a private tour just for them or their small group. Travelers get the chance to enjoy the flexibility and spontaneity of a private tour, and meet a local eager to show off the special attractions that make their home unique.
The value to tour guides is indisputable: with no cost to appear on the site, ToursByLocals gives both professional tour guides and enthusiastic locals the chance to market their guiding services directly to their customer group - travelers. Unlike other tour companies, the ToursByLocals tour guides are independent contractors, not employees. ToursByLocal's role is simply to offer the venue and the systems to facilitate a sound business relationship between traveler and tour guide.
“These numbers will continue to climb” says David Young, who recruits and works with the guides as they learn to market their tours using the ToursByLocals system. “Private guides are addressing a market demand for unique, authentic travel experiences that are hard to come by in large group tours.”
Travelers and travel agents alike have been driving business growth at ToursByLocals. Travelers enjoy the adventure that comes with exploring a new place with a private local guide truly invested in their community. Travel agents appreciate the value of being able to offer their customers a unique tour, unlike anything they could book with a cruise line or large package holiday operator. These two customer groups are driving web traffic numbers way up at ToursByLocals. According to Alexa, which provides internet traffic stats for websites, ToursByLocals.com currently ranks in the top 1% of global websites for number of visitors and page-views per day.
While the company may take a moment to savour its growing success, the busy and hard-working office is too busy planning the next growth phase to leave a lot of time for celebrating. After all, ToursByLocals President Paul Melhus hopes to eventually have guides contracted in virtually every part of the world people are bold enough to travel. “It’s encouraging to see both our inventory and traffic numbers rising so steeply” says Melhus. “It means our message is really getting out there and appealing to both our customer groups: travelers and local guides. We’re looking forward to continued growth in 2012.”