Host Spotlight: Creating New Experiences Through Her Passion for Tourism
"I am passionate about introducing our guests to all the amazing people that make this city so great."
Located in the city that never sleeps, Lauren takes her passion of tourism and creates an experience that allows tourist to fully immerse themselves like a local. Like a Local Tours was awarded for their niche concept and popularity among travelers. We got the chance to ask a couple questions to the founder herself:
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you are offering on Verlocal?
I'm originally from Wisconsin, but I grew up in Minnesota, Texas, and Pennsylvania. I graduated from Pennsylvania State University and have lived in NYC since 2004 and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, since 2008. I have over 10 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry and I am passionate about people and knowing the best places to go. Like A Local Tours specializes in exploring neighborhoods through food, fashion, and art. Our two most popular destinations are Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and Flatiron District.
2. Tell us about your company background: When did you first become inspired to create your own tours?
I started informally showing people around Williamsburg on weekends. This was before it became as popular as it is today. I’ve always wanted to start a business and luckily Like A Local combines my love of New York City and Brooklyn with my passion for people and travel.
3. Can you tell us more about your inspiration?
I am inspired by all of the amazing businesses that we work with. For example, OddFellows Ice Cream where their chef (who was a contestant on Iron Chef) comes up with the most incredible flavors and everything is handmade in their Brooklyn location.
4. Can you tell us what differentiates your tour?
It’s no secret that there are tons of options when it comes to tours and things to do in New York City but we offer an opportunity to do what locals do. To learn history while eating great food and meeting locals. Plus, all of our tour guides are not only experienced and licensed, but they are also working actors. They are literally professional storytellers with incredible personalities!
5. Tell us about your biggest achievement since the start of Like a Local Tour?
I would say that my biggest achievement is earning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year we’ve been in business. Oh, and being listed in the Fodor’s Guide Book for New York City. They are very picky, and especially as a small business, that was a big win for us. I just love having the book and seeing us in print; with a glowing recommendation nonetheless!
6. What was your biggest challenge when you first started your business?
The biggest challenge when I first started was getting the word out. But eventually word is spreading, and with our excellent reviews, I can’t complain!
7. What inspires you to continue building and improving your business?
Like any entrepreneur, I want Like A Local Tours to flourish. I have 15 tour guides and I also want to make sure we’ve got enough work for them. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also very rewarding.
8. What are your business goals for the future?
I want to continue to create new, exciting experiences! We are currently developing food tours in other neighborhoods.
9. What advice can you give to people who want create a business in the guided tour industry?
My advice would be to serve an under-served market, like Queens for example. Or come up with something completely new and creative!