Hey all, I’m way behind in this announcing stuff, but wanted to wait until we had really got things going before plugging my newest venture on here.
A friend of mine here in Suzhou and I have created this business as a way for foreigners visiting China to have access to an English-speaking local Chinese guide (or ‘pal’ if you will), while circumventing the shady world of Chinese tour-guides (sorry guys, but you know you are).
Anyone that knows me, or has been reading here long enough, knows that whatever my opinions are, I generally shoot straight. I don’t like bullshit, and have always maintained that this would carry over to any business I create.
So, when hammering out the details of this idea, we tried to come up with a win-win-win situation (and please remove any Michael Scott soundingness of that). Basically we wanted to provide an affordable service that didn’t exploit its workers (as tends to be the norm here in China) and also maintained viability as a business.
The problem with traditional Chinese tour guide services
Generally speaking the Chinese tour guide racket is run like any other business in China, and though this is going to (have to) change, largely it’s tough to find honest guides that have your best interests at heart. Because they are paid a pittance by the tour company, guides are forced to create commission-grabbing relationships with local vendors. Those under the guide’s care are then herded from shop to shop where they are fleeced of their money on extremely over-priced keepsakes.
This is such the norm that most college/university Travel & Tourism programs teach it as part of their curriculum.
This can be avoided by renting out a professional one-on-one interpretor or translator, that for a boatload of money will be happy to give it to you straight (as, at those prices, they’ve no real need for the chintzy commissions of some souvenir vendor).
The Middle Way
We wanted to develop an alternative middle-ground. A way for your average traveller to have a helping hand accessing a side of China that those who don’t speak the language just can’t get to. Our guides are generally university students or recent grads that are looking for experience as well as a bit of extra cash to help with the things university students need (late night KTV sessions, days wasted in netbars, etc.).
So, what’s the deal?
Some possible uses of YCP:
- Cultural Exchange
- Insight Into China
- Chinese Lessons
Basically, for $50 USD a day, you get a China Pal to do with as you want. And, yes, I realize that could be taken the wrong way – which is why we have very clear terms of service that forbid any inappropriate behavior or advances towards our guides – we are NOT a dating or escort service – clear?
We take the safety of our guides very seriously, and if we suspect any ulterior motives (or the Pals feel uncomfortable in any way), we immediately cancel the service.
We first launched in Suzhou (Suzhou guide and travel information) and quickly expanded to Dalian (Dalian guide and travel information). Over the coming months we will be aggressively pushing into several other second-tier cities (we’ve our sites on Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xi’An and Xiamen to name a few). So, if you’ve landed here looking for a helper in one of these cities, or know of anyone looking for such a service, please let them know about our little site: www.YourChinaPal.com.
Additionally, if you have any Chinese friends in the cities mentioned who have fantastic English and a winning personality, please direct them to the Jobs page. We’re always looking for good people to join our team.
Feedback is greatly appreciated, either here in the comments or via the contact information on the Your China Pal site.