Remember that semester you spent in Florence? Love traveling but can’t take time off? Or are you apprehensive about traveling long distances to a place you’ve never been? Want to try naan more than you want to fly to India? CityCiao is almost ready for takeoff.
CityCiao is a new kind of daily deals site for people who love to travel but can’t always jetset to their favorite destination. It is a platform for promoting global influence in and around a city. Founder Ryan Croft had the idea after working through problems with his other company, Croft Global Travel, which provides epic travel experiences to young thrill seekers. He recognized that people are passionate about international travel and having unique experiences, but can’t always fly out of town on a whim. “We wanted to give people the sense of experience in their own backyard that travel provides people on trips,” says Croft.
CityCiao is one part Croft Global Travel, one part Groupon and one part game mechanics. All deals are exclusively international restaurants, bars, experiences in the D.C. area. Each deal corresponds with a specific country on the map and each user has his or her own “CityCiao passport” upon sign up. When you buy a deal to Lebanon, you get a Lebanon stamp in your flippable CityCiao passport along with little facts and a visual map of places you’ve been. Every deal is at least 50% off the regular price. As you collect more password stamps, the site tracks purchases and rewards you based on a credit based incentive system. Hit the same country up more than other CityCiao members? Instead of Foursquare’s mayor, you’ll be a CityCiao ambassador. Users will be able to unlock more deals as they collect more passport stamps. But at its base, it is simply a platform to explore the global community in a city.
While the D.C. based startup is launching in its home town first, CityCiao could thrive in any city that’s relatively large with a lot of global influence like NYC, Miami or LA. The D.C. area is ripe with international culture. Whether foreign diplomats are looking for a chance to enjoy some “home cooking” outside of the home or your girlfriend is tired of going to Five Guys every Friday night, CityCiao will offer experiences at deep discounts that are probably not on the tourist map.
They haven’t tapped into multi-log in APIs like Facebook yet. So at launch, you’ll have to sign up with your email address. But they have incorporated Facebook sharing for their daily deals so you can Like a certain deal and share it with your social networks on Facebook and Twitter. An iPhone app is on the roadmap.
CityCiao is as bootstrapped as bootstrapped gets. With zero funding, Croft and his two co-founders all have fulltime jobs, so they work nights and weekends on CityCiao. They will officially launch on March 21st, 2011 in the Washington, D.C. area and they will start with a week-long, wine tasting deal. After that, they will run two deals per week. Live in the D.C. area? Get excited to reconnect to the global experience through good food for cheap.