May 22, 2013
In researching our latest trend report, Travel: Changing Course, we caught up with Vipin Goyal of SideTour, a platform that helps people host and discover unique experiences (e.g., a walking tour of the Greenwich Village beatnik renaissance with a music historian and writer). Founded in 2011, SideTour is part of the emerging peer-to-peer experience category along with startups such as Vayable and Gidsy. The company is based in New York and also operates in Washington, DC., Chicago and Philadelphia. Before founding SideTour, Goyal was VP of business development at online video company Joost and director of strategy and business development at MTV Networks International. In 2009, he and his wife left their jobs to travel the world, and the idea for SideTour was born out of that trip. Goyal talked to us about why peer-to-peer companies are increasingly appealing to today’s consumers and how traditional travel brands can benefit from this trend as well, creating more “lean-forward” experiences to drive loyalty.
What is SideTour’s 30-second elevator pitch?
SideTour is a platform that helps people host and discover unique experiences, whether it’s sledding down the U.S. luge track with a former Olympic medalist, learning the art of graffiti with an aerosol artist in Queens or dining with an investment banker-turned-monk in an East Village monastery. Our mission is to help people experience the amazing world and the remarkable people that surround all of us.
What do you see as the macro trends driving today’s peer-to-peer marketplace?
One obvious shift on the supply side is the trend around freelancing. In today’s market, more and more people are moving from traditional full-time jobs to freelancing based on their expertise and interests. SideTour builds on this trend by offering a platform for professionals and other individuals to monetize their expertise. In the same way that platforms such as Etsy enable artisans to build a digital storefront and market their goods, SideTour enables experts, whether they’re chefs or monks or musicians or Olympians, to share their abilities and make money while doing so.
Second, there’s been a huge increase in interest in knowing who’s making the stuff we’re buying. That’s what you see with Etsy, Kickstarter and many other peer-to-peer marketplaces. It’s driven by an interest in supporting local community, local artisans, and it’s focused on collaboration, mutual benefit, all of that. It’s a shift from the past few decades, which has been more about mass-market efficiency and low cost, towards smaller-batch and artisanal products. People want to know who’s creating the products they’re consuming and the stories behind them.