As with most of us at the millennium, Zain Al Khalifa was stuck with what to do next. She had finished college and while she was working at Al Riwaq Art Space an idea came to her – something that would really put Bahrain on the map.
Woman This Month (WTM): How did you come up with localppl.com?
Zain Al Khalifa (ZK): While I was working at Al Riwaq Art Space, we had some resident artists in and we had to show them around. Seeing that they were getting a local experience, beyond the Tree of Life, and having a good time, I thought it would be cool to make this accessible to other travellers too. From a local perspective, there are many knowledgeable locals other than tour guides that can give you an equal or a more raw experience of a place and monetise at the same time. For example, Khalid Al Jabri is a photographer who is now offering his experience on Localppl and while he is not a certified guide, he is an excellent photographer and if you follow him on Instagram you’ll see that no one knows more about Souq Al Manama than Khalid. With that knowledge he can use our platform to offer tours and, in the near future, accept online payments.
WTM: Were you always a traveller growing up or is this a recent bug?
ZK: I have always had the travel bug. I bothered the hell out of my parents for going to the same place every single summer. Once I had the chance to do things on my own I took full advantage. I realised how amazing it is to trust strangers. I recently went on a hiking trip and one of the cabins we stayed in had 70 people sleeping in it – you’d think it would be a mess but people were so respectful of each other’s space and time. I had a concentration in sociology at college – that’s why things like this really fascinate me.
WTM: What is the main concept of the website?
ZK: Localppl is a marketplace inspiring travellers and helping them find and book authentic experiences (tours and activities) from locals or small tour companies. Think of it as a younger, cooler, cheaper Lonely Planet.
WTM: What makes it stand out in a market where there are lots of travel websites and outlets?
ZK: Well, in this case it isn’t crowd-sourced, which a lot of travel sites are. Everything is hand-picked. We invite locals to offer experiences. In the future we will screen applications. Also, we tell stories to inspire travellers rather than just reading opinions of people who might have completely different interests. We want to tell you more than where the best place to eat is. We’re looking for people to tell unique stories of travel, from making a worm stew (I just made that up) to a group of people you met at a hostel and how you spent the rest of your trip with strangers – now friends.
WTM: Where do you hope localppl.com will be in five years?
ZK: I hope that we’ll be in multiple locations and be the go-to site for the young traveller, whether to get an experience, recommendations, or just be inspired about different cultures.