Monday, May 14, 2012

With iGottaGuide, Authentic Local Experiences Are Just a Click Away

Launched in April of last year, iGottaGuide is a startup that caters to tourists; its goal is to connect local and foreign travelers with amateur and professional tour guides within a city. Co-founder Keith Petri came up with the idea during his own adventures, in which he learned that the best way to experience a city is to travel with someone who knows their neck of the woods like the back of their hand, and without spending too much money as well.

“I remember being in Rome and going to the Coliseum and didn't enjoy it, because it was like walking around Times Square – full of tourists,” he recalls. “Then I got to Florence and had a completely different experience.” A local showed Petri and a friend around the city in a way that could never have been experienced through a guidebook. Their tour included a trip to a secret bakery that was only open between 3:30 and 5:30 am.

Petri, who describes himself as a “lover of travel and hater of tourists' traps”, wants to save people from cookie-cutter vacations that involve guides who “walk backwards with [a] gaggle of tourists in tow”.

Currently, the service is only available in New York City, but its website does note that iGottaGuide will soon be serving other areas, namely, Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. In the meantime, travelers who plan to head to the Big Apple can browse the local experiences being offered on the site, and book their ideal vacation once they find it. On the other hand, locals who would like to guide visitors around their city can list their itineraries on the website. iGottaGuide handles all payments and charges a 15 percent service fee on every transaction, though Petri plans to make the service entirely free one day.

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