Okoli connects you with tour guides around the world

Okoli is new
service by developer Jack Deneut which aims to replace those
ugly little cards you find in tourist hotels. The web app,
which currently works in Prague, Budapest, Berlin, and Paris,
lets you reserve a nearly private tour with a professional
guide and you’re guaranteed groups of no bigger than eight
people. It is live now.

Standard tour groups depend on large numbers of people to
remain profitable. By stuffing as many as 35 people into a
group you get a crowd of folks led by someone with a crackly
microphone system and holding up a big umbrella. Instead of
depending on huge numbers of groups, Okoli offers quality tours
for $25 a person and does everything from booking to
cancellations online. If more people book for a certain day the
system automatically adds tour guides to the roster to handle
the overflow.

I tried the app in Prague last week and signed up for a 10am
walking tour of the Old Town. The guide, a professional who
does both private and group tours, took me around to the major
sites including the Jewish Quarter and the Charles Bridge. She
had something interesting to say at every stop. Because I could
reserve it from my bed I didn’t have to look for anyone with a
yellow umbrella at 9am near some random fountain to pay for a
voucher that I then handed over to someone else. It basically
streamlines the entire process, unlike competitors which are
just front ends for fax machines and email interactions.

Deneut is hiring guides for other
countries and cities and hopes to expand this summer. He’s
bootstrapped the project and it’s currently seeing a few dozen
tourists per day. He’s currently raising seed.

While using Okoli isn’t the same as finding one of those weird
leaflets in the motel lobby advertising the Museum Dedicated to
the World’s Smallest Horse it sure beats wandering through a
city looking for a Ghost Tour at 9pm.

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