Excerpt from New York Times
'Tourist' has become a dirty word in the hospitality business. The preferred word? Local.
Travelers can now sign up through hotels and tour operators for experiences arranged by locals. The latest to join the trend are Marriott International, which recently took a stake in PlacePass, the tour- and activity-booking start-up, and Royal Caribbean Cruises, which just introduced GoBe, a seller — online and through an app — of land-based tours and activities.
The experiences can be as varied as the grand and the unexpected. On PlacePass, guests can book a private tour of "Downton Abbey" filming locations, pasta-making lessons with a local celebrity chef or family-friendly outings.
The new moves by these established companies reflect the increasing draw of home-sharing sites like Airbnb, which promise travelers the chance to live like a local, said Fiona O'Donnell, the director of travel and leisure research at Mintel, a market research firm, in Chicago.
"Guests want to feel like they are experiencing something in the design or the local flavor," she said. "They want it to be memorable and part of the local scene, not like they are tourists."
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