Award-winning start-up trip4real redefines the way we spend quality time in foreign cities. Instead of following well-trodden tourist paths, Gloria Molins and her team connect us with locals – and their sailboats, wine cellars, or first-hand experiences.
Spain’s hottest tourism start-up resides in an old factory-turned-hub for innovative founders. Yet on outside, nothing hints at the buzz behind the yellow walls so ubiquitous in Barcelona’s Gràcia quarter. A façade like any other – or like the first, cursory glimpse of a new city. Trip4real promises a peek behind these scenes – not only in Barcelona, but also in Madrid, London, Lisbon, Paris, and (soon to come) Rome. A winning concept with equally promising supporters: World-famous chef Ferran Adrià is already on board as an investor.
smart magazine: So, what is trip4real all about?
Gloria Molins: Basically, trip4real is an online platform. We connect travelers and local experts. We want tourists to experience unknown cities in a completely novel way. On our platform, more than 2,500 local experts across different cities share their interests, passions, and activities to encourage people to travel like a local. It is all about these special moments when, for instance, a food expert from Barcelona shows you where to get the best tapas and you get this rush from discovering a gem of the beaten track. That‘s why it‘s called trip4real.
smart magazine: Which offers prove especially popular?
Gloria Molins: I can’t really tell just yet. It is all about many people sharing their different passions. While some focus on cultural and historical explorations, others love to run and show you the city’s best running routes. Then there are architects giving architectural tours and taking you to their active projects. The activities on offer range from artistic and ambitious all the way to adventurous. Overall, there are around 60 categories on our website; from one-hour guided tours to extended week-long trips.
smart magazine: Why did you feel this was the right time for collaborative travelling?
Gloria Molins: In the past, almost every trip was about travelling along fixed routes. Think large agencies, package deals, and traditional guided tours that whisk you past popular sights on a bus. Now, there is a strong movement towards more independent and individual travels. People like to plan and book their own transportation and accommodation. They want to explore cities in a different way and they also want to pick their own activities. This market is huge and worth around 90 billion dollars worldwide. We offer you a wide range of opportunities to connect with locals. It’s all about peer-to-peer.
smart magazine: How did the whole idea come about?
Gloria Molins: I am a passionate traveler myself, living and working abroad for many years. While living on several continents, I realized that the most magical moments involved being with locals. It makes a huge difference.
smart magazine: Why start your business in Barcelona?
Gloria Molins: Although I have lived in the Netherlands, Sydney, Chicago and other places, I am originally from Barcelona. I decided to return because for me it still is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It’s perfect for starting a business like this. Now, we are launching our services in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and many other cities. We are very excited about our international expansion.
smart magazine: Compared to these other metropolises, what sets Barcelona apart?
Gloria Molins: Barcelona is cosmopolitan. The city is vibrant; there is always something going on. Spaniards and especially Catalans are people who love to connect with others. They love going out, exchanging and sharing their passions. I love this mix of historical and modern architecture. Yet in the end, people make up the most important and inspiring part of the city.
smart magazine: What can other cities learn from Barcelona?
Gloria Molins: Actually, I don’t like comparisons since every city in the world has its own magic, but you have to fall in love with a city. If you love the sun and passionate people, or if you like to work until 8pm and have dinner at 10pm, Barcelona is the perfect place to be. If you prefer colder climes or a different landscape, you might pick another city instead.
smart magazine: World-famous chef Ferran Adrià is among your investors. How did this happen?
Gloria Molins: Ferran Adrià represents Spain in the best possible way. He is also a great guy and an amazing visionary. As an entrepreneur you need to be persistent and try every option. In the very beginning, when we started trip4real, the team and I talked about finding a person who embodied the spirit of trip4real. We looked for a host with an activity that would get people talking about us. So I approached Ferran Adrià and he instantly liked the idea. He said, “Gloria, your idea allows the city to tell its micro stories. I really love that.” So, instead of hosting an activity he became our partner. I am so happy about this. He is the best ambassador the company could have. He is a great artist and entrepreneur and you can always learn interesting things from him.
smart magazine: In the spirit of trip4real, what are your personal top spots and Barcelona tips at the moment?
Gloria Molins: There is one magical spot that I really love. It’s called Carretera de las Aguas, a trail and path close to the mountains just outside the city. It is not only great for hiking or biking, but also offers one of the best views of Barcelona. It’s difficult to reach as there is no public transport, but once you are taken there by a local, you are bound to have a great time. Another great spot is Barceloneta. It’s an old fishermen’s district and like a little island, close to the sea with the best tapas bars imaginable. The vibe is exciting. People play the guitar, dance flamenco on the street, and sing songs. There is always something super cool going on down there.
All the pictures, incl. the header image: Lars Borges