"Wild" tourism as the highest gradation of a traveler, or for whom Tourista.me was created

    I am a traveler. Not just a vacationer, who once or twice a year brings a passport and money to a travel agency, chooses some All Inclusive tour and then according to the standard scheme: duty-free, a huge amount of booze as a “cure for aerophobia”, a brawl on the plane (optional if courage goes), transfer, hotel and so on. It’s not interesting for me, I won’t throw stones at those who like such leisure activities - everyone makes his own choice, but I don’t like to use the services of tour operators. Do not want and that's it. Not because I do not trust them, but rather because they (and, for my own money) deprive me of 50% of the pleasure of traveling, which for me begins long before the trip or flight.

    The next sortie for me, first of all, is data mining and careful planning, if the route is new. If you are well-known and all the preliminary work has been done (there is multishengen in the passport, and fresh horses are waiting on the pass, your favorite low- cost airline has thrown off prices below nowhere), then the element of spontaneity, on the contrary, can bring a special charm to the trip. In general, the essence is simple - I do everything myself - I buy tickets myself, book a hotel or arrange my own accommodation somehow differently (couchsurfing, for example, is a very suitable way), I plan my travel schedule myself, and I decide it’s time for me to return home, or still, after two weeks of wandering, wave from Lisbon to Basel, where Ryanair offers me today to fly for 9 euros.

    It’s pointless to list where I’ve already been - it’s easier to name the places I haven’t reached yet. But the fact that the opportunities for a free tourist will always be much greater than for an organized one is a fact.

    The only thing that I always lacked in such a vacation to feel its perfection, and what I could envy the buyer of the tour, was the deep knowledge about the place of stay, which can only be provided by a qualified guide or a local resident, unless of course you can fully find with him mutual language. Guides that are full today in the form of the same mobile applications are all well and good, but nothing can replace a lively dialogue and prompt answers to questions arising during the story.

    But once she was lucky - having seen that the tourists had obviously lost something, and having heard the Russian language, in Florence my friends and I offered my help to a Russian woman who, according to her, had lived there for more than 20 years. The woman turned out to be extremely educated and erudite - in about half an hour she told us about this beautiful city as much as the four of us, on the eve of shoveling a bunch of guidebooks and other literature, did not know in total.

    As often happens, the underlying shortage was transformed into an idea - the idea of ​​creating a service for people like us (of course, I'm not alone in my hobby - there are a lot of us, free travelers. And friends, and just like-minded people). And the meeting in Tuscany prompted the idea that there are probably many Russian-speaking guides throughout Europe (and in the world). Most of them will be happy to share their knowledge and local life hacks with former compatriots, while receiving the opportunity to earn extra money.

    From idea to business

    Without going directly to the world market (everything is ahead, but do not overestimate our own strengths), we started building a service for Russian-speaking tourists and guides, which would at the same time become a convenient B2C platform for some and a functional B2B center for others.

    As a result, Tourista.me appeared - a platform for caring people. Those who travel, want to "live" this or that country from the inside, to feel the spirit of places and routes, and not just to "go over" the list of attractions. And those who have something to tell and how to surprise.

    Our goal is to connect travelers and guides, help the first to visit interesting places, and the second to show these places. Practice shows that all the most interesting is far beyond the usual travel guides and tourist avenues.

    A tram tour of Rome, a truffle hunt, or a VIP Italian tour of Lamborghini, Ferrari or Ducati in Italy - there is entertainment for every taste and budget. The number of excursions and their diversity is constantly growing - it is unlikely in another place you will find a tour of the Parisian dungeons or a trip tour of the cafes of Amsterdam. (We do not have such excursions yet, but it all depends on the imagination and capabilities of the guide). The main thing is that there is such a potential.

    The main aim - on unique excursions with a deep immersion in the culture of the country, a guide's creative approach to his work, argued for by high competition - already at this initial stage, dozens of qualified guides throughout Europe work with us. The target audience is young travelers with a multiple Schengen visa who plan the trip themselves.

    Market and competitors

    Somehow everything is rosy and unproven, right? Let's turn to dry statistics. 18.3 million Russian tourists left the country in 2013 (Rosstat) with an increase of 19.3%. And they spend 12% of all money on excursions (ATOUT, 2012). According to EU states, in 2012, 2.9 million Schengen multiple-entry visas were issued in Russia (refusal is 0.9%), 494 thousand in Ukraine (2% refusal) and 326 thousand (0.5% refusal) in Belarus.

    And the market is growing very quickly due to competing low-cost airlines, filling up a potential client with offers, low visa rejection rate and lower average accommodation price from year to year.

    Of course, we follow the leaders (airBnB.com, for example), but so far we see competitors in the Russian-speaking marketplace (excursiopedia.com, tripster.ru).
    Our goal is to create a product that will not be a simple catalog of excursions, but a whole platform for connecting locals and tourists, as CouchSurfing.org does.

    Beginning and first results

    After two months of work, 220 new excursions appeared on the site, mainly in Italy for Russian speakers, later excursions in Spain and the Netherlands were added. The first successful orders were sent (more than 50 have been completed so far), there is good traffic from search engines.
    We attract guides through forums, blogs, social networks, both specialized for tourists and guides, as well as ordinary, personal sites of tour guides. We write letters, we invite to cooperate.

    Search for investments and goals

    What do we need investment for? We are not inclined to underestimate the market - there is always competition and it is quite high. But you need to get to the proper level and strive for victory))) Our next steps to it (with your financial help):
    1. SEO-optimization and promotion.
    2. Contextual advertising (Yandex.Direct and Google AdWords).
    3. SMM promotion (Facebook, Vkontakte).
    4. Salaries of a full-time developer and copywriter.
    5. Promo video.
    6. Creation of mobile applications for iOS and Android.

    About the author: Alexander Yaremchuk - founder of Tourista.me, PHP and iOS developer, (Toptal.com, Petrosoft Inc., FindMySong.com, PrimeContext.ru, Ownermetric.com).

    We (the project team), of course, believe in the success of crowdfunding and the potential of VCStart, where we are looking for financing, and in the search for funds we rely mainly on the help of micro-investors. But we also try not to waste time in vain. Recently, we took part in the largest startup conference in Ukraine (IDCEE), in which we participated for free, being among the most interesting startups of the Tech4UA fund. We got acquainted with the mass of future partners and investors, got a good feedback and an assessment of the project idea. And although we were not invited to pitch on the stage (a thousand devils) , this did not prevent us from finding two potential investors for two days of the conference, with whom we are continuing negotiations. We also invite you to take part in our project in this capacity. You can buy a stake in Tourista.meon the VCStart.com collective investment platform .

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