If you've ever been overwhelmed or frustrated when trying to find the best activities to do on vacation, there's a new tool out of Google's experimental workshop Area 120 that wants to help.
Touring Bird is a mobile-first site that compiles tours, activities, and attractions in the top travel destinations in the world, creating an easy-to-use visual search engine. With tools to filter by price (including free), and insider tips from locals, the goal is to offer travelers a much easier way to find things they want to do on vacation, particularly beyond the top attractions.
“A leisure trip to a destination is usually between three to eight days,” Lax Poojary, who leads the Touring Bird team, told Travel + Leisure. “People want to do top activities and attractions in the first few days, but then they want to do more immersive things ... We wanted to build a one-stop shop.”
With that in mind, Touring Bird's offerings start with the obvious — like the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles or the Empire State Building in New York City — but then dive down into insider tips provided by locals — like Amsterdam's museum dedicated to fluorescent art or the oldest tea-maker in Paris.
Poojary says that while it's relatively easy to search for flights and hotels across different airlines and properties in one place (actually, in several places), activities can be all over the place. “There's been a lot of focus on flights and hotels, but there hasn't been a meta search for everything else,” he said. That leaves travelers searching across different sites and platforms, trying to compare both quality and value.
And whereas an alt weekly may have previously offered a single source for some of the best offerings of a city, in 2018 we're all looking for recommendations on our phones. Touring Bird, while not a standalone app, feels like one in the browser. And with the ability to save favorites and direct links to reservations from the site, there's a clear focus on turning what is often a complicated map and blog search into a single, unified experience.
Another important thing about the app is the range of free activities. “Some of the best activities are free, but it takes a lot of research to find them,” Poojary told T+L, adding that featuring quality free activities is how Touring Bird hopes to differentiate itself. In other words, they're not just out for a booking — they want to be a great service to travelers even when they're on a budget.
In addition to doing so by offering free activities, Touring Bird also does something unique with prices: While various tours and companies bundle activities and prices, the tool debundles, showing the best price for the selected activitiy or activities.
By building its own team of local experts (some of who offer tours themselves), Touring Bird is also out to highlight more unique offerings. “It's very hard to find one-of-a-kind experiences,” said Poojary. There are currently 400 contributors across 20 cities, with 2,000 local tips and a total of 25,000 activities.
As of Thursday, Touring Bird is available in 20 top destinations around the world: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, New Delhi, New York City, Orlando, Paris, Prague, Rome, San Diego, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.