Innovation That Matters

Personal guide service offers an insider's view of Shanghai

Travel & Tourism

Now that Expo 2010 is underway in Shanghai, travel to the Chinese metropolis is surely on the rise, with a record-setting 70 million or more visitors expected to visit this year. What better time to launch a personal guide service for the city? Picking up where Louis Vuitton’s Soundwalk MP3 guides left off, AtYourSide offers custom services designed to make visitors’ experience of Shanghai easy, enjoyable and hassle-free. Travellers begin by browsing the profiles of the company’s personal agents and then booking online the one that best suits their needs. All agents are qualified linguists and interpreters who not only live in Shanghai but also speak some combination of English, German, French and Japanese; all must also pass a rigorous interview and training process, including everything from first aid and IT skills to knowledge of western cultures and business etiquette. Visitors’ itineraries can be planned ahead of time to include trips in and around the real Shanghai, making sure to steer clear of the tourist traps and busy standard tours. General translation and simultaneous conference interpretation are both available, as are proofreading and document translation. Extra services such as mobile phone rental, office leasing and airport transfers can all be organized as well. Minimum booking is one 9-hour day; guides’ rates begin at CNY 900 per day, variable with the season. Annual memberships are also available. While tour guide services certainly aren’t new, there’s still plenty of opportunity to upgrade such services with user-friendly features such as browsable guide profiles and top-notch business and translation skills. Owned and operated by award-winning Swiss design agency Walker, AtYourSide could provide a model worth emulating in other major cities around the world. How about yours…? (Related: Blind guides take sighted on sensorial walking tours of LisbonNiche tours focus on sustainable LondonSightseeing on the run.) Spotted by: Aly Cha



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