Can e-hailing save the tour guides?
By Hafidz Baharom
The idea came rather randomly while waiting for a haircut, but could e-hailing companies be the answer to assisting tour guides during the Covid-19 downturn?
Frankly, some Malaysians retrenched in the tourism sector have already taken jobs as drivers for these e-hailing firms, but could the same tech be used for localised, micro tourism tours, formed into packages catered to Malaysians?
This proposal is not entirely new. Before, a Vellfire could be rented out by e-hailing companies for an entire day in Kuala Lumpur. However, creating a model for tourism would mean getting local councils, and state tourism offices involved, in order to come up with a weekend or even a one-day travel itinerary.
This would allow Malaysians to get guided tours by their drivers not just for local tourism spots, but also allow those who have tour guide experience to make use of their contacts and connections to further enhance the experience as well as maintain their networks.
Furthermore, a look at how this will then filter towards the local economy and boost tourism locations which many might not even know exist is also a plus.
How would such a model work?
Users would book a tour package based on their geolocation, rounded around 30-50 kilometres radius, and see which tour guide is available for the next day.
Users will see a list of guides available and pick one they wish to create an itinerary with. This will also take into account the tour costs.
Once the itinerary is set, the user will be charged the fare.
Users will then meet up with the guide the next day at a venue and time of choosing, to start their tour.
And of course along the itinerary, users get to rate each travel location, and tip and rate the tour guide at the end of the whole itinerary.
This does two things 1-It will give feedback to MOTAC on their tourism spots, 2-It will also give tour guides a review of their work and what they can offer to the next tour based on the ratings it got.
If this goes according to plan, it will also provide long term benefits in which we no longer have to depend on tour agencies, but shift the model to it becoming a one person business.
Furthermore, this model can also be evolved and adapted to providing walks and tours similar to those you see in London and Tokyo, in which one guide would take its participants on a walking tour either to see history, shopping, or even just nightlife walking tours around the city.
One of the most famous of these, of course, is the Jack The Ripper walking tour around the Whitechapel district.
A more twisted one that could be thought up is in California, which is the Zodiac Murders tour.
Coming back to Malaysia, the Petaling district could have a tour on ecotourism, shopping and food. For Kuala Lumpur, it could go for everything from a museum and culture tour, to food, to shopping, to even eco-tourism spots.
Such a plan could even target Melaka, Penang, certain cities in Perak such as Taiping and Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, and even areas of Muar and Johor Bahru in Johor.
The tourism sector will not be seeing any light for the next 3 years, with IATA noting that this is the amount of time needed before normalisation to pre-Covid travel. As such, to keep the industry going, this could be a model for the tourism, food and beverage, retail and even e-hailing sectors to look at.