Want to Travel the World like a Local? Try Wandering Tom
he total number of outbound Chinese travelers in 2015 alone was 120 million; topping over 150 million in 2016. A rising number of these tourists are what the industry refers to as free independent travelers (FITs); generally younger travelers who are increasingly traveling individually or in smaller groups in hope of discovering new adventures beyond the beaten tourist track. However, without any sort of guidance for unique experiences or reliable information, most of these travelers end up at the main tourist attractions- the last place that they wanted to be. Wandering Tom is designed to help these growing consumer group avoid this trend by providing them with a curated collection of travel guides and content from locals all around the world. These insider guides allow them to travel like a local and experience the true essence of each destination.
Let’s first look at Alex, one of the founding members of Wandering Tom and what you might call the “creative brain” behind the operation. Born in London and raised in Paris, Alex grew up in a multicultural and bilingual environment. After studying Environmental Science at the University of Sussex, he then returned to London where he worked several business consulting-related jobs before moving to Shanghai in 2016. His dual perspective as both a local of multiple countries and a passionate traveler and explorer made him think about how different the two experiences can be. He began thinking of ways to help free independent travelers really experience each new place; not only seeing the sights, but also gaining a true understanding of the culture and people.The other half of the Wandering Tom founding duo is Tim. The handsome Australian (who some say resembles a young Tom Cruise) also had an international upbringing, having lived in Sydney, Switzerland, and London. With a background in finance and renewable energy, Tim is more of a numbers man and the “muscle” behind the operation; his business savvy and firm resolve have been instrumental in bringing the Wandering Tom story to life.The pair met in 2012 while snowboarding in the Swiss Alps and hit it off instantly, bonding over their shared interest for travel and exploring new cultures. The idea for Wandering Tom and more reliable, locally sourced content was the result of this fortuitous meeting. About the choice for the name “Wandering Tom,” Alex says, “Wandering represents a state of being, of truly exploring and understanding one’s surroundings. Tom represents an average person who is curious about life and eager to go out and experience it with his or her own eyes. Toms don’t just want to see things for themselves but are excited to share what they know and have learned with others. We at Wandering Tom hope to build a platform where these types of people can come together from around the world and share their knowledge with travelers to their local area. These travelers can then explore cities with a fresh and local perspective.” Through their combined international travel experience, Alex and Tim have established a base of friends from all around the world who are passionate about traveling and sharing their experiences. It is this group that constitutes the preliminary network of global content providers for Wandering Tom.The platform will be up and running by May of this year with the first batch of destinations. These destinations include Sydney, London, Paris and Milan. Though for now this list is limited, it will grow as the network expands, developing based on our users’ needs.Wandering Tom’s parent company, ASAP+, has been deeply involved in the tourist industry for many years across a wide variety of content providers and operators. The group chairman, Alpha Xu, says: “China has the world’s largest outbound tourist market; young, white collar Chinese like to travel abroad at least once a year on average, most preferring to travel independently. Currently, most of China’s young independent travellers plan their routes by reading travel websites. However, the information available is from the perspective of other Mainland Chinese travelers, therefore homogenous and rather superficial. Many tourists who follow these older guides end up taking the exact same trip, with the same pictures and souvenirs to boot, all without gaining any true understanding of the places they’ve been. We hope to help travellers break free of these restrictions and explore a destination according to their own likes and preferences.ASAP+ plans to support Wandering Tom as it gets started on its journey. The integrated digital marketing agency under the ASAP+ group, Flipscript, will be responsible for delivering a complete set of marketing services, while other sister companies will provide opportunities for cross-platform cooperation.ASAP＋ is a completely new type of digital agency, which aside from its digital marketing services, also has global platforms servicing a number of multinational businesses. The group provides a one-stop shop for all of their digital marketing needs; they work by building complete digital ecosystems for their clients, connecting all of their online platforms. In this way they can ensure that their digital marketing strategy is succinct and effective. With this foundation already laid and management team in place, the future looks bright for Wandering Tom.