How is Backstreet Academy different from other travel companies?
As part of our commitment to create social impact, we have a special program for struggling/underprivileged artists of a city to earn additional income. These hosts and their activities have been personally designed, vetted and trialed by our course designers in the respective cities. And these Hosts are mostly individuals who work quietly in the underbelly of a city, creating amazing works of art that are often unappreciated and passed off as mass produced souvenirs for tourists. Where most see a souvenir, we see a personal story; a struggle for survival; a journey of self-discovery; years of practice and most importantly an undying passion to create. In addition to artisans and craftsmen, we’ve discovered that the backstreets also hold innumerable home-based workers who have amazing cooking skills, some with recipes that have not changed for countless generations. Often times, our cooking hosts are housewives who’ve mastered the art of cooking but don’t have an avenue to monetize it.
Most of our hosts have been found by reaching out to various NGO’s and handicraft organizations. Not only do they get a platform through Backstreet Academy to earn additional income but getting to teach their skills to others also validates their efforts and gives them a renewed sense of self-confidence.
What does the label Backstreet Experience over some of the listings mean?
The labels over listings that state "Backstreet Experience" shows that it is a signature activity of Backstreet Academy, where our team has assisted in the sourcing, creation and training of the host. These experiences are the most representative in showcasing the Backstreets and the intangible cultural heritage of a place and we personally guarantee that you'll enjoy them! The hosts are also part of our social impact program, where we assist people who can't speak English or access technology to create these amazing activities and provide them with a facilitator to translate the experience. They thus become micro-entrepreneurs who generate additional income from running these experiences, moving themselves out of poverty.
Who are these facilitators?
Since most of our hosts cannot speak English, we have recruited and trained young and energetic facilitators to ensure that our hosts are not limited or denied an opportunity because of language or technology barriers. Facilitators are not tour guides and only provided for hosts who do not speak English. They are simply translators who are currently studying English at the local universities or English schools. Most of these young people are struggling to pay their school fees and living allowances after coming into the city from the provinces and need a job to upkeep these expenses. The school schedule however prevents them from being able to hold a full time job and a flexible part time job is often hard to come by, and Backstreet Academy’s program allows them to take up translating jobs anytime they want so that they can not only generate additional income for themselves, but also practice English and learn customer service for preparation of their career in tourism and hospitality.
What is the booking process?
Simply search for the city you are travelling to, browse through the activities on offer and make a booking request with your preferred date and time. All activities are on-demand so they will be available as long as you make a booking in advance (>24 hours). Once you submit your booking, your host will confirm availability and send you a payment link for you to make payment for the booking deposit. Once you make the deposit, your spot is reserved. If you haven't made payment for the deposit up to 24 hours before the activity begins, the host reserves the right to cancel your booking and give it to someone else.
Once payment is made, you will receive a payment confirmation email with a booking summary and a link to the map of the pickup location. If transport is provided, then you will be able to enter your own pickup location when making payment.
For select activities, instant booking is available. There is then no need to wait for the host to confirm and send you a payment link. You can make payment immediately and your spot will be reserved.
A facilitator will be picking you up at the pickup point at the scheduled start time of the activity, and you can recognize them by their attire. They will always be in white T-shirts/polo T-shirts with a culturally significant accessory, such as Lao silk armband in Laos and a red armband in Vietnam. The exact attire will be in your pickup location link.
How much does the host/facilitator make?
We make it a point to distribute all the revenues fairly among all our stakeholders. 40-60% of the price goes to the host directly, 15-20% goes to the tuktuk driver, 15-20% goes to your facilitator and the company retains roughly a 10% remainder.
Is tipping required?
No, it is never required. However, if our host or facilitator delights you, feel free to delight them back with a tip! They take every cent of tips so you can be sure whatever you give is all theirs.
Are these courses safe?
100% Safe, no compromise. We curate every single one of our hosts to ensure that they are who they say they are, and that the environment is safe for all the activities stated. All our facilitators are similarly vetted and given training to ensure they are able to deal with emergencies. In the very unlikely case that something happens, our facilitators know who to call and where is the nearest hospital, so not to worry!
Are these classes run every day?
Classes are on-demand, and anytime there’s a booking, it will run. If you’re interested in an activity, the corresponding availability is stated on the activity page, and all our activities run daily.
When is the latest I can book a course?
We recommend that you book at least 24 hours ahead of the intended activity start time to ensure a spot. However, we understand that there’re always last-minute bookings. If you would like to enquire if a last minute booking is available, simply email us at [email protected] or call us from the information provided about on our contact us page and we usually get back to you within an hour during office hours.
I’m only 1 person, can I join a course with minimum 2 people booking?
Please email us and we will help you to make an arrangement with the host. Most activities can be done with an additional $5 surcharge. Some hosts require a higher single course surcharge and it will be communicated to you during an enquiry. For massage courses, you will need a partner to practice on, thus massage can only be booked in pairs.