Meet Sanne Meijboom. An avid traveler, a passion for other cultures and the desire to create a social impact drove her to quit her full time job and launch I Like Local. I Like Local is an impact travel marketplace that provides travelers the opportunity to book authentic travel experiences from and with local people in Asia and Africa. The goal is to provide local people in emerging economies access to a worldwide travel market and a source of income and travelers with more meaningful experiences. 100% of the money asked by the local hosts is directly paid to them.
Read on to know more and who knows you maybe on your way to experience an authentic green travel experience.
Motivation in starting I Like Local
I have always been an avid traveler. Throughout my travels, I came to realize that my most treasured experiences were from my encounters with local people. The more I talked to other travelers, the more I realized I was not alone in feeling this way. At the same time, I also saw that many local people were and are still not benefitting from tourism that come into their country although tourism could be a strong economic driver.
Out of every 100 USD spend by a traveler only 5 USD reaches the people on the ground.
I came to realize that connecting locals and travelers directly could have a transformational power. Four years ago I started to help people experiencing a country in an authentic way while doing good as they travel and empowering Bottom of the Pyramid communities to directly access the travel market and moving out of poverty. Now, across our network, local people are receiving 100% of the money they ask for the experiences they offer.
A typical travel experience with I Like Local looks like this
We have a couple of key values that are reflected in all of our experiences: Connect, Engage, Empower.
What makes an experience unique and memorable in my opinion is the connection with the other person. Therefore, we only promote private or small group sizes consisting of a few people.
A second element that creates an authentic experience is that you have the chance to truly immersive in the life of a local whether it will be for a few hours, a day or a few days. Therefore, we offer a wide array of experiences varying from staying on an organic tea farm in Nepal, experiencing the life of a monk in Cambodia or enjoying a home dinner with a family in Kenya to name a few.
The last value of Empowerment is reflected in the way that we only focus on countries where we can make an impact and only allow people on our platform that are locals of the country itself.
This is for you if you are keen on green travel
We have the goal to make a positive impact in the lives of people in developing countries and therefore 100% of the money a local is asking for his experience he is receiving. The feedback we often get from people who have booked with us is twofold. One is that they can have a true authentic experience and second that they know that the money is directly received by the local people.
Popular destinations on the I Like Local platform
Our most popular destinations are Kenya, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal.
A favorite travel destination recommended to OPR users
I live in Kenya and I still think that Africa has not the right reputation among many people across the world. When talking about Kenya many people think about safaris, but this land has so much more to offer than only wildlife. Many don’t know that Kenya also has snow-capped mountains, a beautiful lush, palm-fringed coastline with one of the best white-sandy beaches, deserts and dense forests. From Europe it is only an 8-hour flight and almost in the same time zone.
How do you ensure trust and safety in these experiences, specially when it comes to working with local travel guides
There are a few ways that we build trust along the customer journey.
On our website
I believe in a personal touch not only during the experience itself, but already when people come to the I Like Local website. Therefore, we always have a personal description of the local host and an image of the host so that people know whom they will meet once they book. A second element are reviews from previous travelers. We noticed that these experiences are more frequently booked. At last we provide various point of contact on the website so that clients can contact us during their search process.
The experience itself
To guarantee quality and safety of our experiences we have a couple of vetting criteria in place. It all starts with the type of experience a host would like to offer. When people reach out to us it is no guarantee they are allowed on the platform. The experience needs to meet our values as described above.
Another criteria is that a local person needs to have some experience in offering his service and need to show proof he has been doing it before. Second, we ask for references, social media channels, and a website if they have one.
To also provide people access who fit into the Bottom of the Pyramid we work with established NGO’s.
Before an experience is put online we have contact with the local via email or phone to create an experience that fit our customers need the best. This email conversation gives a lot of insight into the trustworthiness and quality of the experience and the host. When all is set we work with influencers or our own team to test out most of the experiences.
The best advice I can give is to try to go off the standard tourist trail and be as open as you can. This will often bring you the most memorable experiences.
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