Local Alike

Local Alike: A community based tourism platform

Throughout Thailand and other South East Asian Countries, ThailandThailand
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

LocalAlike is a community based online tourism platform, harnessing the experiential travel market and channeling it into building sustainable livelihoods in rural communities. We address 3 problems common to rural communities: cultural fading, traditional trade and skills loss, and migration.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we can utilise tourism as a development tool?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

From tourist’s perspective, traditional tourism in Thailand is a huge industry, but it's very shallow, and visitors don't really experience the real culture or the lifestyle of the locals. They also said that sustainable eco-tours exist, but finding one is difficult and committing to one feels like a gambling. On the other side, locals have a lot of stories and experiences to share, but there is no easy/simple way to market themselves.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Local Alike does the following: 1. Curate ‘sustainable tourism hosts’ with high potential for great customer experience and help them design their homestay offers that will meet the standards. 2. Operate as a reliable and credible marketing and sales channel for locals who would otherwise have no way to connect with their customers. 3. Through our website, provide customers with choices for homestay experiences using videos and ‘set expectations’. 4. Handle payments and communications for both customers and hosts. 5. Provide reviews and customer services for continual improvements of Local Alike homestay experiences. 6. Create a database of local tour guides. We believe that locals know best.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

So far we we've done the following; 1. Curated 8 communities and help them design programs. 2. Written descriptions and profiles for each community. 3. Piloted our services with customers from Norway, Taiwan, etc. 4. Designed the website and we're in the process of development. Our progress can be seen here: http://www.localalike.com. Local Alike's website will officially launched by beginning of October this year. 5. Solved community issue (Waste Management at Suan Pa village, Health issue at Ja Busee) In addition, we've won support from programs like Global Social Venture, BanPu Champion for Change, UnLtd, and Tao Kae Noi Programs. Here are sample of our works: http://youtu.be/XOyseLAhVZE

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Begining of 2013, we started working with 4 pilot communities in Chiangrai where we have been communitung ever since. We went in and set a development plan and marketing plan with each community. Once the development was done and the package tous were created, we produced contents (Videos, pictures, activities, development details) of these 4 (Suan Pa, 4000Rai, Mae Salong, and Ja Bu See homestay). In term of the community issue, we successfully implemented waste management at Suan Pa homestay. Right now we are expanding to 13 communities and at the end of this 2014 we target to be able to have 15 communities on our platform. From the test trip, there were 400 visitors visiting and 2,380,000 THB income generated and 76% of it directly goes to 7 communities on our platform.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. We aim to increase annual income of Local tourism communities by 20 % of the previous year. 2. We will expand to at least 200 communities by year 5 both in Thailand and South East Asia. 3. We plan to utilise tourism as a community development tool by setting up CBT Fund for all communities that we work with. By the end of year 5, we will be able to tackle at least 111 issues by using the fund from tourism. 3. Reduce migration rate of local people moving to the city to find jobs. 4. We aim to preserve local culture and traditional by using tourism.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We estimate our start-up costs to be 3,142,000 THB ( 100,000 USD). 90% of start-up costs are operating costs and 10 % are marketing. The majority of operating costs, 90 % are attributed to building the database of homestays through connecting with villagers and building the relationships necessary to start operating successful community based tourism. Currently we already secured 25,000 USD from these business plan competitions in Asia,

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently, there is no existing community based tourism plarform that provides this full support servie to both tourists and locals communities. There are some similar and substitutes such as travel agencies, airibnb, and agoda. These organizations focus more on those in urban area where there is no problem in accessing to the Internet, and the service charge is relatively high compares to ours. There are also local organizations that provide homestays options in Thailand. The problems we see from this existing service are no detailed homestay or activity profiles, no photos and varieties.
Team

Founding Story

In 2012, after completing his MBA at Presidio Graduate School, Pai Somsak Boonkam returned home to Thailand, where he began working with the hill tribe villagers at Baan Suan Par and 4000 Rai campsite in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. His goal was to assist the villagers in developing their homestay businesses. While doing this work, Pai met Noon Suratchana Pakavaleetorn who also shares the same idea In late 2012 Local alike entered and won funding from the BanPu Champions for Change competition, a competition designed to encourage and support social enterprises developed to solve social and environmental problems in Thailand. With this funding, we were able to move forward and began piloting homestays in Saun Pa Villiage and 4000 Rai.

Team

Somsak Boonkam, MBA in Sustainable Management, Presidio Graduate School, USA Suratchana Pakavaleetorn. Bachelor Degree in Decorative Arts, Silpakorn University, Thailand Patomporn Pongnin, Bachelor of Arts in Ecotourism and Hospitality Management, International College for Sustainability Studies, Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand Arnon Suprasri, Bachelor of Arts in Tourism Management, University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz, Germany
About You
Organization:
Local Alike
About You
First Name

Somsak

Last Name

Boonkam

About Your Project
Organization Name

Local Alike

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, 44, Throughout Thailand and other South East Asian Countries

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Your Solution
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

In 2012, after completing his MBA at Presidio Graduate School, Pai Somsak Boonkam returned home to Thailand, where he began working with the hill tribe villagers at Baan Suan Par and 4000 Rai campsite in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. His goal was to assist the villagers in developing their homestay businesses. The more he works on tourism in Thailand, the more he noticed that tourism is broken. Traditional tourism in Thailand is a huge industry, but it's very shallow. Visitors don't really experience the real culture or the lifestyle of the locals. Sustainable eco-tours exist, but finding one is difficult and committing to one feels like a gambling — most of them don't feel credible. To solve this problem, Pai formed Local Alike.

Select Sector(s): To which of Unilever's categories of sustainability does your solution apply?

Smallholder Farmers, Supply Chain Micro-entrepreneurs.

Measurable Impact
Audience: Who have you identified as your customers/recipients and why? How will you get your solution to them or engage them in your initiative?

There were 22 millions tourism visiting Thailand last year. Out of this, 20 % or around 4 millions are those who are interested in sustainable tourism. At this first phase, Local Alike will target sustainable tourists from Scandinavian countries and
America, which accounts for 300,000 tourists per year. On the other side, there are 200 community-based tourism sites in Thailand that are ready welcoming tourists. This doesn't include other 700 communities that can be developed to be a CBT.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?

1. Income generation for local families in tourism villages. From our experience working with 8 communities, we found that an average annual income of each household in the village is around 50,000 - 60,000 THB. Once the Local Alike platform has been suitably established in the market, we expect an increase in the annual income by 20% compared to their current income level.

2. With a steady stream of tourists, locals will be able to continue practicing their local traditions and ensure that their knowledge will be passed on to future generations. This approach will allow the communities to introduce visitors to their customs and practices, and foster a greater sense of pride in their traditions. It will also reinforce the idea that their beliefs are of importance and worth preserving for future generations.

Growth, Finance & Leadership
Scaling the Solution: How do you intend to scale your activities over the next two years (e.g., reach new markets, diversify solutions, etc.)? What will make this possible?

We plan to expand gradually as we gain more insights and identify best practices from the first group of communities. Phase one is limited to 8 community-based tourism (CBT) sites based in the north and south of Thailand. We will use the results of Phase one to work out any initial links and carry those lessons learned into Phase two. Phase two will be implemented in other CBTs throughout Thailand. In Phase three, we will introduce the sale of handicrafts. Finally, in Phase four, we will expand Local Alike’s services to other Southeast Asian countries. Also, we work in collaboration with CBT-i, an organization that provides support and facilitate cooperation among stakeholders from grassroots to international levels.

Financial Sustainability: What is your business model to ensure financial sustainability?

Local Alike first service offering will be providing recommended package of each community on the website. This will include accommodation, food, activity, local guide, and transportation. Interested tourists can book through our website. Local Alike charge 10-30% addition to the original price. The next service will be an online platform for selling local handicrafts or product available in the communities.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I have graduated from Presidio Graduate School, USA with a degree in MBA in sustainability. There, I have worked on various project including developing a 10 years financial model for the watershed initiative project and marketing strategy for a royalty mobile reward application. After school, I have worked as a business development for Mae Fah Luang Foundation, assisting locals in Thailand and Myanmar to develop their businesses.

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