How technology is bridging the gap between travelers and locals

Last month Airbnb announced that it had bought the Barcelona-based travel startup Trip4real, a marketplace founded in 2013 where travelers can find activities hosted by locals (things like tapas tastings, paella cooking classes and neighbourhood tours).

Who wants to feel like a tourist these days? Wanting to eat, shop and party like a local when traveling is something that only keeps getting bigger. And technology has a lot to do with this, making it easier and easier with apps and websites dedicated to joining travelers needs with local micro-entrepeneurs.

The difference is in the authenticity: the experiences that locals offer are different because they show the underbelly of a place.Gloria Molins, founder and CEO of the Barcelona-based start-up Trip4real

It isn’t just about technology, though. “You don’t need it. It’s about connections,” says Bart van Poll, whose company Spotted by Locals is updating the ‘friendly local advice’ model for web-powered travellers. “Guides who could arrange a local experience have been here for centuries,” he adds. “The internet — and especially mobile phones — have made things a lot easier.” Spotted by Locals publishes travel blogs and apps with up-to-date tips by handpicked local writers in 65+ cities around the world. Around 200,000 travellers visit their blogs every month and app downloads number more than 100,000 to date, according to the company.

Another popular platform, Eatwith, lets you immerse yourself into a culture with a home cooked meal in someone’s private home. It allows you to do this in 150 countries by connecting tourists and locals willing to cook for them for a fee. Hosts can set up meals, while users simply pick which time, place, or menu appeals to them the most.

We’re proud to be part of the sharing economy which is growing at such a rapid pace. We predict that the peer to peer marketplace is simply going to grow as more people learn about a personal and efficient ways of exchanging goods and services.Guy Michlin, founder of EatWith

If you’re looking for the best travel apps that will let you travel like a local, Time has a great piece on 10 of them.

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