Local tour guide for Trinidad and Tobago

I lived in Port of Spain, Trinidad for a few years, working as an epidemiologist around the eastern Caribbean. Although the sister island, Tobago, has lovely beaches and some tourism, not too many tourists visit Trinidad. Partly because of this, I think the culture(s) are more authentic and interesting in Trinidad than some of the other cruise ship-type destinations in the Caribbean. The island isn’t known for white beaches and turquoise water (though the local beach scene is a lot of fun) and there are practically no all-inclusive resorts, which I think is a good thing.

While living in Trinidad, I had a few visitors from the US. While I was at work, I sent my American friends off with some of my local Trini friends who showed them a great time and introduced them to some of the beautiful and authentic parts of the island. They aren’t professional tour guides, of course, which is why I recommended them!

I’ve noticed on online travel forums (fora) a number of posts from people who are going to Trinidad or stopping there as part of a cruise, looking for ideas for local activities, tours, good local food, etc. I wish there was some way I could hook such people up with my friends there, but I don’t know that this is the kind of recommendation one would post on a message board. My motivation is that I can’t stand the idea of visitors to Trinidad being ripped off, taken to touristy spots, etc. by scam artists that meet cruise ships in the harbor. It would also be an opportunity for my local Trini friends, some of whom are semi-retired, to make a little money and they love to show people around. I totally trust these guys.

What is the best way for me to promote this idea and get informal guide gigs for my Trini friends?

Marketing is all about consistent messages being conveyed often. A little bit here and there goes a lot further than one big push. If you just post one message on one board, not much will work. But if you post many small messages all over the place, plus have a mini-site somewhere for people to click-to, then you will sowly build up a reputation.

Is there a locals website for T&T? We have 2 here, expats.cz and prague.tv that have reviews, ads, etc for us locals and they are getting used more and more by tourists. I have a mini-webpage at both and I get the occasional email because of it…but they still cost me a few hundred bucks a year.

IME, this is something I have heard a thousand times, but the only successful people to do so started the websites above (and there were quite a few attempts that failed). It just seems to me that you will only be successful if you turn it into a job. Just trying to connect person A with person B will be difficult if you don’t spend a lot of time and effort on it…and that eats up your free time. If you can organize your friends, you could start a site like the above (scaled down, of course, those 2 sites now have revenues of over $1m/year). Maybe buy vBulletin ($150-ish?) and a URL and have a simple board devoted to T&T. Try an get a banner ad with a travel agent for cheap or trade to spread the word or find other ways to get people to come see what you have to say/sell.