Localeur Invites Facebook Users To ‘Recommend’ Local Businesses

The digital community looks to offer an alternative to Yelp by helping young tourists have authentically local experiences while traveling.

Localeur, a digital hub where people in various cities can recommend their favorite hangouts to prospective tourists, has updated its app to let Facebook users participate in the recommendation process as the social network continues to expand its ties to small businesses.

Prior to the launch of Localeur “Version 2.0,” only locals “hand-picked” by the Austin-based startup were able to provide suggestions of businesses, says Joah Spearman, co-founder and CEO of Localeur.

Localeur's Joah Spearman
Localeur’s Joah Spearman

Now, anyone who uses Facebook, or has downloaded the Localeur app, and is familiar with one of the 14 cities Localeur covers, can recommend a local establishment, Spearman says.

The idea is to spread the word about a restaurant, bar, or other type of business that is authentically local, which, according to Spearman, means it is fine-tuned to meet the needs of the specific community it serves. It’s these kinds of places that people — especially Millennials — are interested in visiting when they travel, Spearman asserts, adding that you won’t be finding Chili’s or Starbucks or any generic chain business on these lists.

The Millennial Frame Of Mind

“When Millennials travel, they’re trying to have more authentic local experiences rather than in hitting up the same five tourist places,” Spearman says.  “People are looking for unique experiences, and for those which they can curate. We’re bringing that mindset to local businesses.”

Enabling its platform to host consumer opinions of businesses on a public level puts Localeur in the land of Yelp, Foursquare, and other location-based review sites, but only partly; Localeur is not a review site and does not invite criticism or complaints pertaining to businesses. It’s strictly a place for locals to plug a venue — and they must do so with full disclosure of their identity.

“You must be local and you must not be anonymous,” says Spearman of the criteria to recommend on Localeur. “Yelp gets complaints because [users] are anonymous and yet saying bad things, but we’re only allowing recommendations from locals who [make their identities] known.”

The Power Of Positive Suggestion

Spearman says that in the past, he ran a sneaker boutique in downtown Austin, and can relate to how difficult it is to spread the word of your business, particularly if it’s offerings are unique. He also has no empathy for Yelp and the kind of negative commentary it invites, often from people who “have only been there once.”

The positivity that Localeur promotes appears to be catching on. Spearman said that since December, the company has seen a user growth of 500 percent.

For the time being, Localeur will stay committed to maintaining growth, rather than making money, Spearman says, as the company raised $1.2 million in seed funding last January. In the future, however, Spearman says the company will likely host ads from local businesses and possibly team up with other travel sites in promotional efforts.

Seizing Growing Industries

“The [travel] industry is massive,” Spearman says. “It’s produced a lot of winners like AirBNB, and it has a lot of potential. The spoke of this industry is information. That is why TripAdvisor is worth $13 billion dollars.”

Localeur sees itself as filling a void in the travel industry, and also in the local on-demand economy, a blossoming trend that, as Spearman sees it, isn’t going anywhere but up.

“Millennials are living in cities at higher rates than ever before,” Spearman adds. “And they’re looking for a higher degree of authenticity than ever before.”