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Don’t be a Tourist, Connect with the Locals…

Jeff Goldsmith, a friend of mine from San Francisco yesterday launched his new company VIAMIGO. Jeff talked to me about his new ideas many months back, and what really excited me about it is the concept of travellers connecting with locals. Leveraging technology to create an amzing travel experience where residents invite travellers and show their hospitality. We all know that the best travel experiences are the ones when we are emerged in the destination, and when we get away from the the traditional tourist spots to getting to explore the hidden secrets beyond the beaten path. Well, in the age of convergence, VIAmigo is attempting to exactly do that. The site helps global travelers find authentic, local experiences and insider adventures – by connecting them with personal tour guides from everywhere by going beyond the guidebook. Pre-launch, VIAmigo signed up 1500 tour guides from every corner of the planet – with a great many more expected soon. Professional tourist guides to diving instructors to archeologist to connoisseurs of every sort, you name the adventure. Private Guides is

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another site that offers private tour guides all over the world, but not necessarily on a budget.

According to Jeff, “Usually, unless you know someone who lives in the city or find a helpful native in a tiny village, you would be unlikely to find some of the

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fantastic local haunts and beautiful natural spots which are off the tourist trail. The thinking behind VIAmigo is that we allow you to easily connect with professional guides and local cognoscenti. Everyone wants to go beyond the guidebook and package tour on their next trip, and now you can, whether you’re a business traveler with an extra day or an adventurer with a month to explore,”

Why got me excited about VIAmigo when Jeff first told me about his idea? Well, I think Destination Marketing Organizations need to go beyond brochureware and find a way to leverage technology to allow travellers to connect with locals. That is relationship management. I would love to have such a “one-to-one destination marketing platform” – we are working on it with our community platform, which will go well beyond our current Blogging platform on Canada.travel (which is still one one of the few national and regional tourism organizations that allows for user-generated content).

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