5 Questions with the Founder of I Like Local
Sanne Meijboom launched I Like Local, a company that lets people partake in authentic travel experiences while supporting the local community.
Sanne Meijboom, the woman behind the innovative travel platform I Like Local, quit her corporate consulting job and spent time traveling in India, Brazil, Belize, Argentina, Hong Kong and the Philippines driven by the goal of countering the classic constraints of tourism. While traveling, Sanne came up with the idea for I Like Local, allowing others to partake the same authentic travel experiences while simultaneously supporting the local community.
1. Explain the concept behind I Like Local.
I Like Local is a sustainable, social travel platform that enables travelers to book unique, local activities and accommodation from people in developing countries/emerging markets.
The goal is to create an in depth, unique, local experience for travelers and at the same time providing an easy and simple way for people in developing countries to get access to a worldwide market and generate more income.
Currently I Like Local offers over 300+ activities in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines. Over 130 hosts are connected to the I Like Local concept and this community is growing every day.
The activities people can book range from homestays, farmstays, and tours to food experiences, workshops, and short-term volunteering opportunities. In future, we will expand to other parts of Asia. We are also planning to soon launch similar activities in Africa and South-America.
100% of the money asked by the locals for their activities is directly paid to them.
As there is no fee for the locals to participate in the I Like Local concept, they are getting the best price, and so is the traveler. We just charge a small service fee that varies between 10-20% depending on the price of the activity.
2. Who are the locals on the site?
We are working with three different kinds of ‘locals’:
- Individuals – People who offer local tours or accommodation, food enthusiasts who offer cooking classes or food tours and other passionate people who offer activities relevant to their city or village.
- NGO’s that are focused on Community Based Tourism which means that they train local communities in receiving tourists without losing their culture.
- Small scale, sustainable local travel agencies.
3. Give us an example of some experiences foodies might have with locals that they would miss out on otherwise.
I know this from experience that all the love for food and research can still not ensure an experience that a local can provide. They don’t even have to be a foodie to point you towards the best places to eat in their town. Food is like the soul of a city and only the ones who know it can show it. I have had the best samosas in India in a small eatery which I would have otherwise missed or overlooked if my friend had not taken me there. By far the best samosas and a cherished memory!
4. What's the most memorable food experience you've been a part of since the launch of I Like Local?
When I lived in India 10 years ago it was my first encounter with Indian food, and I fell in love, crazily in love with it. Indian food never bores me, so when Anubhav took me on one of his food walks in Delhi I was really excited. It was fantastic! He took me to the oldest food stalls of Delhi that were in the craziest lanes that I can never find myself again. Most of them still use the traditional recipes that have been passed on from generation to generation. From delicious malai kofta, puri’s, samosa’s to chole bhature. It was a feast for my taste buds and a wonderful experience that gave me insight in the lives of the narrow alleys of Old Delhi.
5. What tips do you have for foodies traveling in the company of locals?
Don’t be scared to experiment. New may not always be good, but you may surprise yourself and discover amazing new dishes that you will love forever.
Clearly mention your preferences to the local so that they can keep that in mind while introducing new dishes or eateries
While joining a local you have a chance to learn about the ingredients, recipe, local eating habits and much more. So be inquisitive. If you are interested to know more, the local will be equally excited to share details.