Service Offers Money-Can’t-Buy Curated Local Experiences

SideTour helps individuals enjoy group experiences direct from artists, chefs, travel guides and even monks.

SideTour is a web service that connects groups of people around the same sort of experience. Founded by Vipin Goyal, the service offers impossible-to-buy-yourself services direct from artists, chefs, travel guides and even religious gurus. One of the most popular experiences booked is one where folks can dine with a “banker-turned-monk” at an East Village monastery. There you will learn about Rasanath Dasa’s spiritual journey over tea and a traditional meal prepared by monks.

The experiences on offer can range from the opportunity to explore the Brooklyn Cocktail Scene to a multi-course Irish-cuisine inspired meal to be enjoyed on St Patrick’s Day. The organizers, or hosts, set the prices of their experiences, and SideTour takes a 20% fee on completed transactions.

SideTours can be booked so that a group of people enjoy them. The founder, Goyal, says that people are self selecting and admits that they often experience cum-by-ya moment at the end of the event. He says: “They are hugging at the end because it is a very personal experience.” He told PSFK that when four pairs of strangers went on a pasta making experience with a top chef in Brooklyn, none of them knew each other – but they enjoyed the same experience so much that they went on to learn new pasta recipes with the same chef over and over again with the same group of people. (They are no longer strangers!)

When we asked if SideTour used social-data, Vipin replied that it hadn’t yet been integrated with data from networks like Facebook – he argued the current platform was inherently social. Over the next 6 months, his team will be migrating the service to a platform that will use social data to connect users to everyone they have met on SideTour and also them to have a more personalized experience.

SideTour

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