An app creating shared experiences between different people

Tubudd (Tour Buddy) is a travel app that aims to provide authentic experiences and insider knowledge from locals to travelers. Tubudd does not help users book hotels or plan a trip. Instead, users can book a local guide who will show them hidden gems and insider knowledge of the city.

We speak to Annie Vu, one of the five creators of Tubudd, to learn more.

Explain Tubudd and how is it different from other travel services like homestays and local expert concierges?

Tubudd is a service, a marketplace where travelers can book a local guide wherever they go. This local guide will not host them (like homestay), but they are like a friend (buddy) to them. They will be able to take them to local places. This is due to some problems when people travel, like the language barrier, the culture. Recently, an American woman bought a banh ran for VND700,000—that’s so unfair to travelers and tourists anywhere. So, this buddy helps travelers avoid scams, explains the culture, the language, and helps them have a better trip without all these hassles.

With other travel agents people must book tours, Tubudd is different. Sometimes tours are big group with people you don’t know, there is no privacy. In addition, it’s all to tourist attractions, they will miss all the fun, the best places, the local spots that make a country special. And it will be cheaper as well.

The term “authentic experience” gets used a lot in the travel industry and have lost its meaning somewhat. What does it mean to you?

Because they will be taken cared, led by a local buddy who may not study tourism but loves the city, the country, the culture and knows all the hide and seek spots in the city: Where best to have Vietnamese coffee, where best for pho and where best to buy clothes and so on. Travelers will be able to choose and go to places they need and want. To let the travelers live and experience the real things, the everyday things that Vietnamese people do every day, that’s what we call “authentic experience,” not only eating spring rolls in a Vietnamese restaurant.

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What cities are Tubudd already in?

Pretty much all over Vietnam: Hanoi (some can cover Ha Long Bay, Sapa and Ha Giang as well), Vinh, Da Nang, Hoi An and Saigon. Outside Vietnam we have people in Manchester, some in Finland, Berlin, Marrakesh and some states in America.

My goal is to make Tubudd successful in Vietnam because I believe we can have more travellers to Vietnam once they know this service and advertise Vietnam tourism to everywhere to the world. Then would be South East Asia.

Do you believe it’s necessary to personally experience all the places Tubudd operates in?

Yes, I do! Right now we are based in Manchester. We have Vietnamese students and my Western friends in other countries but because we have not had a website yet we have not gone wild in finding local guides yet. I believe I will receive lots of requests from people all around the world once we get our name out there. And I will go to every country Tubudd operates to meet them to make sure we connect with each other. That’s why I and another co-founder are back to Vietnam in August.

One of the reasons why I came up with Tubudd idea was my trip all around Vietnam a couple of years ago. I went with my two Canadian friends and I believe without me they would have had lots of troubles and would not love Vietnam.

How do you recruits guides overseas and ensure safety for both users and guides? Are background checks done?

Right now, we are doing everything manually. But yes, all the guides should have background checks done. They will have to pay for it, and it will be stated on their profiles. In other countries like the UK, we use CBR check (they have to pay for it as well). We all have 10 minute chats with every single one of them, either via Skype or face-to-face. Other companies that offer similar services, they just get the guides to sign up online and there is no security involved. From now until we get the background check systems installed, we will use references to make sure the safety of both.

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Will there be a rating system for the guides?

Yes, ratings and reviews. If the guides have lower than three stars we will give them warnings and any lower than two stars for three months we will terminate them.

Will the app be available in every language?

Yes at first the website will be in English, then Chinese, French, Spanish and other languages. The app will have them as well.

Is it free to use? How will you monetize Tubudd?

It is free to use for the user: They can chat, talk to Tubudd guides before they book. They will only have to pay Tubudd guides’ prices. The price will be set by the guides so different guides have different prices. We will charge the guides a certain percentage of how much they earn. It also depends on their rating and reviews as well. We have Top Tubudd for guides who constantly have five stars ratings and we will charge them a lower percentage.

Images Provided by Tubudd