With the emergence of on-demand services, travelling has greatly evolved. The demand for commercialised tour packages has decreased and most tourists prefer a more personalised experience.
Hence why there have been more services to help match tourists with local experts who can customise the itineraries according to their preference.
Paul Chong noticed this trend and decided to give this concept a go with his startup, Nuflit.
It all started when Paul was working on a project in China. He met a few locals and invited them back to Malaysia as a chance to show them the beauty of his home country.
However, upon their arrival, he was caught up with personal work and couldn’t allocate time to bring them around.
Despite teaching them how to get to their destinations with ride-hailing services, the tourists were still reluctant to move by themselves considering their lack of fluency in English.
“I searched everywhere for friends who could speak Chinese to bring them around. In the end, my younger brother’s friend did it for me. That is when I saw an opportunity and it inspired me to start this journey,” said Paul.
With an initial investment of USD300K from an Angel investor and himself, Paul purchased a base platform in April, did some modification and customisation to turn it into a travel app before kickstarting the recruitment drive of locals and private tour guides.
Send A Request, Get Matched With The Right Guide
Nuflit is essentially a travel service that connects travellers with locals or private tour guides and focuses on providing a personal experience for tourists all around the world.
There are 2 options offered on their site:
- To register as a tour guide and become a local expert on their platform.
- To request a tour from the range of experiences listed by locals on their platform.
Nuflit focuses on bringing in individuals who don’t mind bringing tourists around and showing them places that they know best.
They work with local tour agencies for leads to pass on to their locals and private tour guides worldwide.
When you click on a tour that interests you, most of the information will be provided such as a personal and professional background on the tour guide, languages spoken, and a detailed list of what the tour includes.
Upon sending requests, tourists can opt for either a scheduled activity planned by the local experts or to customise it for a more personalised experience.
Tourists are given the choice to pick whichever suits their fancy, whether it be food to sightseeing to club crawling.
In the 3 months since their launch, Nuflit has received close to 7,000 requests from tourists
Paul mentioned they have yet to enforce payment on their platform since 90% of their user base is from China and India, countries which do not use PayPal as a regular payment channel.
“However, we did collect fees from our U.S., Netherlands, South Africa, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines users. At the moment, our technical team is working on the integration of Alipay and an Indian payment system,” said Paul.
The startup plans on fully monetising their platform starting from September.
Nuflit is only a listing service, so it doesn’t mean that locals or tour guides will automatically get requests.
There are a set of criteria and conditions for the local experts to meet before their application is accepted.
“For verification, we require for them to provide their ID through our WhatsApp and then call them via Skype for an interview. We constantly review and filter out the bad ones while our backend will search their names on social networks to verify their identities more,” said Paul to Vulcan Post.
He shared that majority of the local experts are those who already have their own jobs but merely want extra income while providing good experiences to inbound travellers.
Currently, there are about 12,137 Nuflit users with about 453 of them being local experts/private tour guides around 70 countries.
The app has gotten over 8,500 downloads for both Android and iOS devices so far with a growth rate of up to 100 users per day.
As a fairly new player into the scene, Nuflit isn’t exactly a foreign concept to Malaysia but they differentiate themselves with their more on-demand element.
Their customers are those who may not want to make bookings for a tour way ahead in time but prefer a more spontaneous approach.
“When most people travel to a country for work or a holiday, they always have from a full day to a few hours for visiting. So we target these customers. Our statistics show that many of our users are working adults, solo travellers and flight attendants,” said Paul.
Paul mentioned that Nuflit have yet to reach out to Tourism Malaysia for any partnerships but they are talking to their partners in other countries for collaborations in terms of advertising funds.
In the future, Nuflit’s looking to amp up the user experience by incorporating more safety features. One of them would be setting up a panic button for their paid users.
“We are also working on a function where travellers can enable their GPS tracking with us so we can be sure their trip is safe and in the unlikely event that something unfortunate happens, we can take action based on the tracking to find where they’re located,” said Paul.
Nuflit will also be receiving extra investment funds for marketing and further modifications to their platform within the year.
How Paul envisions Nuflit to be positioned is as a travel app that travellers can opt for when they want to divert away from the need of tour packages.
“Our users can get a free and easy trip with Nuflit or they could join a 3-hour local tour before flying back to their country. We’d also hope to see more locals using our platform to meet from different states so they can get the best of what Malaysia offers as a whole,” said Paul.
Feature Image Credit: Nuflit
Check out the latest industry with the highest retrenchment rates in Singapore here.