TakeMeTour takes Thai farms online to ride out tourism downturn

Peer-to-peer online activity marketplace TakeMeTour has established an online retail platform to help Thai farmers and gardeners, once dependent on tourist dollars, to better survive the current tourism crisis.

The LocalFarm online platform presently features agricultural products, such as seasonal vegetables and processed fruits, from more than 50 sellers across Thailand, with some of them being past Local Experts listed on TakeMeTour.

TakeMeTour helps onboard sellers on LocalFarm platform, but no micromanagement required: Taro 

Taro Amornched, co-founder of TakeMeTour, explained that the other sellers on LocalFarm are those affected by declining tourism activities and have been unable to sell or export their products, or are no longer able to welcome visitors.

“We promoted LocalFarm through Facebook and other social media networks (and) proactively reached out to some of them that we see a fit,” added Taro.

TakeMeTour charges these suppliers no fees or commissions to access the LocalFarm platform. And the assistance goes even farther; the suppliers can avail to photography services for their products, banner design expertise, copywriting help as well as advertising and marketing activities – with all costs shouldered by TakeMeTour.

“We help to onboard them but do not micromanage their account unless they want us to do so,” shared Taro, who added that the LocalFarm platform was designed to be easy to use, even for non-tech savvy individuals.

In turn, TakeMeTour’s work on LocalFarm is financially supported by the Asian Development Bank’s impact investment platform, ADB Ventures, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). A seed grant of US$150,000 helps LocalFarm with product development and regional market validation.

ADB and TAT have supported TakeMeTour through technical assistance since 2017.

ADB Ventures senior investment specialist, Dominic Mellor, commented that “it is impressive to see how quickly and efficiently TakeMeTour has developed an innovative online platform to help frontline tourism workers earn alternative income streams” during what he described as an “unprecedented crisis”.

Just two weeks old at press time, LocalFarm has gained more than 100 transactions from across Thailand.

LocalFarm site features agricultural products from over 50 sellers across Thailand

In the initial phase, LocalFarm targets only Thai residents due to logistical restrictions. However, translations are underway to prepare the website for the expatriate community and future travellers to Thailand.

Taro is working towards two plans: one, to facilitate orders by tourists during tour bookings and have the purchases delivered to their hotel; two, to curate a selection of farms that are ready for agritourism activities, such as fruit pickings and farm visits.

When asked if LocalFarm could be expanded to help local farmers in the Greater Mekong Subregion, where TakeMeTour is also present and supporting more than 25,000 local experts, Taro said: “Although this is possible technically, we want to focus on our largest coverage location, which is Thailand, at the moment. However, we are open to partnerships or software licensing if anyone is interested.”

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