Photo courtesy of Local Expeditions.
Brooklyn based tour company Local Expeditions was designed to bring tours into the sharing economy. It helps community members become guides and create tours around the places they love most. It creates hyper-local experiences for visitors. It also allows guides to create and keep their own schedules, and walk away with 80 percent of the profits. At Local Expeditions, everyone seems to be a winner.
The mastermind behind this new concept is Nancy Blaine, who was inspired by companies like Airbnb to create a new kind of tour company based on the same principles. “I loved what was happening in the sharing economy; businesses were adopting disruptive economic models and finding new ways to serve the public and their own communities,” said Nancy.
Nancy’s first step was to create an online platform to provide guidance, parameters and a space to showcase tours and interact with patrons. Then she invited locals to create and manage their own tours. Tour guides weren’t told where to go or what to talk about. Everyone’s schedule could be made to fit their lifestyles. Locals in Brooklyn, Boston and New Hampshire quickly signed up and soon, visitors were getting hyper-local, unique experiences.
Nancy Blaine, founder of Local Expeditions tour company. Photo courtesy of Local Expeditions, taken by Regan Wood Photography.
“I’m looking for people who are passionate about their community,” said Nancy as she described how Local Expeditions got started. After 26 years in the publishing industry, Nancy was ready to change things up. It all started when she rented out her home through Airbnb and fell in love with the system. It inspired her to bring two of her passions together: New York and sustainable low-impact travel. She wanted to give locals a platform to share their favorite community highlights and hangouts with visitors. The only parameters were to make sure tours involved self-propelled transportation (walking or biking), lasted two to three hours, and included some kind of refreshment (a glass of wine, a microbrew, a cookie, croissant, etc). To keep each tour small and intimate, a limit of 10 people was set for each tour. Tours are only $40 and fifteen percent of profits go to operating costs, five percent go to a local non-profit chosen by the guide, and the remaining 80 percent go to the guides.
Caption: The Citibike DUMBO tour by Nancy Blaine for Reading Partners uses CitiBike rentals. This tour takes visitors from Manhattan to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge – Brooklyn). Enjoy a nice slow ride, historical anecdotes, art, treats from top eateries, and more. Courtesy of Local Expeditions.
In the year that it has been in business, Local Expeditions has worked with more than 30 guides and expanded across New York City and into Boston and New Hampshire. Many guides who signed on have said that they enjoy the flexible schedule and they love being able to create their own tours to showcase parts of the city that are close to their hearts.
Caption: The Gowanus! Yes, Go On Us! tour by Andrea Coyle explores the Gowanus canal, which has seen hundreds of years of growth and change and is now seeing a revitalization of its community. Artists and small business owners have re-purposed the neighborhood and it is ready to strut its stuff. This tour donates 5% of its funds to Arts Gowanus. Courtesy of Local Expeditions.
Another unique element of Local Expeditions is their five percent donation to community non-profits. Each guide chooses a non-profit for their tour. It can be any non-profit as long as it is local and focused on helping the immediate community. Some guides even choose non-profits that are directly connected with their tour, such as the Gowanus! Yes, Go On Us! tour that donates to the Arts Gowanus organization. No matter what the guide decides to choose, a few extra dollars will be given back to the community where it needs it most.
After hearing all about this new sustainable tour company, we at Immersion Travel Magazine can’t wait to take a tour or two and see for ourselves how Local Expeditions is making an impact. Stay tuned for our review!
Nancy Blaine stands with a CitiBike ready for a new tour to get underway. Photo courtesy of Local Expeditions, taken by Regan Wood Photography.