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Gary Waldon

Hope Island, SEQ

To avoid feeling like they were missing out when travelling, Azra Alagic and Gary Waldon sought true and immersive local experiences. They built their own tourism platform, Localyokl, to provide other travellers with authentic Australian experiences by partnering with the locals of tourist destinations.

I'm Gary Waldon and I'm the co-founder of Localyokl, and we're located on the Gold Coast.

Localyokl connects travellers with locals for real authentic experiences. I have a fascination for business, whether that be a small business or a large business, and it's how the machinations of those businesses work.

Being your own boss gives you a whole range of emotions from the excitement of creating something really unique, having your own freedom, through to the fear of failure. I think one of the biggest assets you've got are your ears, and the ability to listen and learn from people that are going to share their experience, is great to be able to then apply that within a business like Localyokl.

We got the Ignite grant last year and that was really useful for us when we were revamping the website. Another couple of ones that we were told about by Advance Queensland were things like the digital grant and also the entrepreneur grant, which we were fortunate enough to get those as well, so the Government has been really good in supporting small business, and in particular, us, to take us to this next step.

Azra and Gary loved to travel, experiencing the real heart and soul of places through the people who lived there. After enjoying some memorable experiences around the world with locals, they thought other travellers might enjoy similar safe, real, immersive experiences too. So they founded Localyokl, connecting travellers with Australian locals. Launched in mid-2017, their Localyokl app offers 180 unique local experiences across Australia.

Localyokl employs a small number of staff and engages industry specialists as required. The locals who act as guides sign up online, pass a security check, then get paid to host travellers, providing experiences such as surfing, sunrise walks, home-cooked meals and secret local spots.

As demand increases for authentic and immersive experiences, Localyokl will grow to employ more people. They aim to encourage tourism-related employment, particularly Indigenous tourism, across Australia, contributing to the economy of their regions as locals establish their microbusinesses.

Partnering with airlines, hotels and automobile clubs, Localyokl plan on expanding in Australia and overseas. Learning from market demand, their business focus is on enhancing their website, digital marketing, industry affiliations and partnerships.

The support Localyokl has received from the Queensland Government and tourism bodies such as Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, and Gold Coast Tourism, has helped shape the business.

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