A ground-up project to cover a perceived niche
Sunandlife is one of those projects that came out of an accidental realisation. My friend Núria and I are avid travellers and love to discover new cultures. Also, we both have lived in different countries and have been "tourists" ourselves in many occasions.
Núria herself is a graduated in Tourism and has spent many years working in the industry, as I did many many years ago. We both enjoy participating in travel forums, I myself have been very active in that area since 2013 and I can be seen in TripAdvisor or Rick Steve's among others.
So, back in 2015, when we were discussing over a coffee the tourism scene in our home city Barcelona, we realised that there's an ever-growing number of visitors that DIY their vacations instead of using the traditional travel agencies. This breed of travellers tends to be better informed and seek beyond the typical 'touristy' stuff. To cater to these needs there are several sources of information, from tourism boards to well-established publishing companies, which provide tons of data and possibilities. Then, travel forums and online bloggers help to see a different angle from those rosy brochures from the tourism boards and the generalistic -and often superficial- articles in most travel guides. In the end though, tons of information -especially in popular destinations like Barcelona and its region Catalonia- and a gazillion different suggestions to choose from.
And here enters Sunandlife into the scene... we assembled a small band of local Catalans, passionate about their land and their roots and who like to travel themselves as well and experience 'being a visitor' elsewhere, to provide a specialized service to assist would-be DIY visitors to choose among all those options.
We get to know these visitors first, asking about their expectations, their previous experience in our shores and their preferences, and then we propose a personalized trip for them. But this is not a guided tour of any sort, but curated information especially compiled for these visitors to DIY on their own, at their own pace, with the peace of mind that we've covered (almost) all the angles they'll need: places they'll most likely enjoy, schedules, viable routes, unassuming nooks and crannies that will make their visit an unforgettable experience and our own personal recommendations.
And we do so while they're still in the planning phase in their home countries. We use the online medium to communicate and we deliver a digital customized travel guide with all the information they'll need. We don't sell tickets, nor book venues or hotels... that's left to the visitor's own decision, we only assist in "making up the perfect itinerary" and document it.
I initially took charge of defining the product and devising its launch, which we did in the fall of 2015. My involvement in this project gradually decreased and these days, while I still participate in some strategic decisions, I am no longer as active in the day to day. Having said that, one of my passions is to continue making customised digital guides for these visitors from time to time. I love to share knowledge and experiences about Catalonia and its capital Barcelona.