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Tourme: A digital platform transforming the tourist industry

Bill Marquez’s quest for a pineapple-picking farm in Maui turned into an unforgettable adventure. He realized -- with help from friendly residents -- other travelers could fulfill their dreams too.

As a result, Tourme was born.

Developed by the St. Petersburg-based International Touring Apps LLC, the Tourme platform makes it easier to book memorable personalized tours at a savings.

“We’re really mainstreaming tours and travel,” says Brittany Cooper, Tourme’s Marketing Coordinator.

As a child, Marquez had noticed tourists disembarking from cruise ships in Bonaire, the Dutch island near Arruba in the Caribbean, with cellphones that didn’t work. He wanted to make it easier for them to connect to the locals. Later, he recognized the niche in the market when he wanted to book his own pineapple-picking tour.

He eventually became business partners with Gary Capuano, company Co-Founder and Principal, who had witnessed the rise in development in St. Petersburg.

Today Marquez is CEO of the company located in co-working space in the Station House in downtown St. Pete. At 2 years old, it has six employees, most of them remote. International Touring Apps is scouting for an office worker to help manage tours, and expects to hire local residents for office and management in the future. “We’re taking it day by day,” she says.

Prospective employees should visit partner.tourme.com to apply for tourist guide and other positions.

Tourme received more than 10,000 applications from tour guides since the beginning of the year. About 800 have been approved in more than 180 cities across the world. The platform offers at least 400 user-generated tours -- and plenty more are pending.

The number of users wasn’t disclosed, although the company is projected to have 50 million downloads by the end of 2020. “It’s gong to be huge in the next couple of years. We anticipate having millions of users,” she says.

The company, which launched its platform earlier this month, is preparing for rapid growth. “I think that it’s going to be a great tool for the tourist industry,” she says.

Tourme is expected to benefit both tour guides and tourists. “We just really want to streamline that process,” she says. “It will be disruptive, in a sense. I think it will be an asset.”

It will make it easier for guides to book customers. Tourists will find it easier to find reputable guides and book their tours without using big companies or cruise lines. Larger groups are expected to benefit most from the peer-to-peer approach.

“I think we’re just following the natural progression of how business is done these days,” she explains.

Tourme will be adding badges to some profiles to show the guides are licensed. Ratings and personal endorsements will be available.

The platform has an app for tour guides and an app for tourists. Now available in the App Store and Google Play, both are free to download and use.

Tourme makes its money through a 25.5 percent cut of the touring fee. “Taxes vary by location,” she says. “No one booking a tour in Florida will have to pay a service charge.”

The company’s mission right now is building recognition for the brand and strengthening partnerships with visitor and convention bureaus and others.

It is enjoying the sense of community in downtown St. Petersburg. “The industry for startup companies has just been booming in St. Petersburg for the last couple of years,” she says. “It just really fell together and seemed like the perfect place to get started.”

Read on to learn more about the Tampa Bay Area job market.

• If you’re interested in helping grow Tampa’s downtown, check out Strategic Property Planners, a joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC that is developing Water Street Tampa. It lists 10 openings on its website, including an asset manager, assistant controller, IT help desk and systems administrator, real estate development manager, senior development analyst, senior graphics designer, senior development multi-family residential manager, senior recruiter, and VP for construction management-office. An open-ended “Opportunities at SPP” listing invites applicants for urban developer, construction project manager, marketing expert, accountant, real estate technology visionary, or finance expert. Learn more about job openings at SPPTampa.

• The Tampa-based chronic care management company, Caresync, lists 17 job openings in Tampa, including telephonic nurses, nurse phone care coordinators, a medical care coordinator, and project administrator. Learn more about the jobs.

• The Mentor Network, a national network serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or other medical-related needs, lists two job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. One is for a quality improvement specialist in Tampa, who must have at least three to five years of experience in quality improvement or a related field, and a direct support professional or caregiver in New Port Richey, who must have at least one year of related, direct care experience. Check out the details here.

• Robert Half is seeking a junior, mid-level software engineer to work with a client in St. Petersburg. This permanent position pays $50,000 to $70,000 annually and requires C# and SQL knowledge. Check into opportunities through Robert Half.

Know of other growing companies adding jobs in the Tampa Bay Area? Email tips@83degreesmedia.com

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. 
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