TouristLink, a social marketplace connecting travelers to local experts

Touristlink is a social marketplace matching travelers with small local travel providers. Touristlink lets you get to know firsthand the local behind the tour you are planning or the small hotel you want to stay. It’s a great resource whether you want to get off the beaten path or just want to plan your own trip.

Once you post your travel needs (be it for offers or QnA), local experts from the area will help you with answers. An interesting concept, here is a brief QnA with David Urman, founder of TouristLink on companies’ strategy and how they are reaching out to local experts.

1. How do you curate locals?

We mainly rely on our members who actually interact with the locals to write reviews and share experiences positive or negative. TL Logo

You can see an example here

The second thing we do is certify members by actually calling them and checking contact details (example). In addition we make them place a link to us on their website so that we can see they are the actual managers (They can remove this later if they wish).

This certification is an optional process. To a large extent how well a member develops his profile and his activity on the site will also be factors in establishing member trust.

2. How do you resolve the last mile connectivity between locals and the travelers?

We let members make requests using a special form. Once a request is made it goes out to the relevant locals. Any type of request can be made from an airport pickup or room with a beach view in Goa or an all inclusive trip to Mt. Everest.

We are planning a simple mobile application that will let members take this with them on the go so they can always stay connected to the locals and essentially have our entire network available to field potential requests. .We are developing this application not only to assist travelers on the go but also creating an opportunity to get a better deal before they make their buying decision.

3. Business model?

We are not super concerned with monetization during the current phase of development. Once the platform obtains significant traction we will test out a pay per lead or commission based model. We are looking to be the marketplace for Travel Activities which is an $85 billion global industry where 60% of transactions are still made over the telephone.

4. What has been the traction so far?

Pretty good, especially in the last few months. We have about 8000 members now since we launched in October with most the sign ups in the past 2 months. We are getting a lot of positive feedback as well as constructive criticism from our users which is helping us further refine the interface.

5. This is an international service – how are you scaling up the ‘local connect’ geographically?

Our content drives a lot of international traffic which is resulting in locals signing up from every country. The local providers seem quite excited to be able to promote themselves on a social network and we are not encountering on a lot of friction at this point.