Love local insights while traveling? How about a customized tour vs. a vanilla one?

nyc Alex Yong @innovation
Me in front of street art depiction of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Mural by artist Eduardo Kobra

Need this exact location⬆️ on a map? Here you go: As always, when visiting a location for Instagram or whatever, be respectful of the property.

“You can find almost anything and everything in New York City.” Native New Yorkers tend to say this, and I agree, though I moved here at the age of 3. Oh, sorry, I’m digressing again. But let’s assume the assertion is true — y’know, that practically any niche can be found here in NYC if you simply know where to look:

Then it makes sense that tourists could hire local guides (y’know, the people who do know where to look) who also possess niche knowledge.

In theory, these locals are able to transform cookie-cutter tours into something spectacular, depending on what you’re “into.” An app named Kolu says this is very possible and already happening; so we talked with them about how their company + locals can make tours ultra-amazing for tourists who prefer a niche tour vs. a vanilla one.

Q: What is Kolu?

Kolu, Inc.:

Kolu is a mobile app for iOS and Android devices that uses mutual interests and commonalities to match travelers with a local guide for private, customized walking tours. We’re mainly focused on targeting the millennial generation, who has proved to place a huge value in travel experiences, especially those that can be personalized and tailored.

Currently operating solely out of New York City, we have plans to scale to Chicago and San Francisco in the near future.

Q: How do you match travelers with a local guide?

Kolu, Inc.:

We take our customers’ broad travel interests and narrow them down even further. For example, if your interests are food, music, and drinks, you can then select sub-interests like bakeries, jazz clubs, and dive bars. Travelers will then get matched with a guide who shares those same interests, has a similar age, and can speak the same languages. This way, our guides can plan for an incredibly niche tour of the city.

Q: What makes Kolu different from other touring companies?

Kolu, Inc.:

Our business model is quite different from other current market touring companies. We place an emphasis on understanding the user before matching them with a local guide. Only then do we focus on the activities that will take place during the tour. Also, our tour prices vary from guide to guide, so travelers can book a private tour without having to break the bank.

Overall, our main focus is to provide travelers with a true local’s perspective. We want our users to walk away from a Kolu tour having seen hidden gems they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find.

Q: How would a traveler go about booking a tour?

Kolu, Inc.:

The first step to booking a tour is to download Kolu on the App Store or Google Play Store. From there, travelers will be prompted through the booking process and asked to input information like trip date, duration and size. All in all, the booking process should take less than a few minutes.


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