Call it social networking for real life travelers.
Tripptrotting, an international organization with headquarters in Pasadena, California, has chapters in more than 500 cities across the globe. The group facilitates introductions between people from different cultures, essentially connecting travelers with knowledgeable locals to show them around town.
"Triptrotting is a great platform for travelers to get a true taste of local cultures and for local hosts to expand their global network of friends without having to leave their town. It's a new way to make friends," says Elma Placido, an advisor to Triptrotting who lives in Phnom Penh.
The Phnom Penh chapter is holding a networking event at The FCC Phnom Penh on September 9.
As it currently stands, Placido says meeting people from around the world typically involves just connecting with people on either Facebook, where you connect with people that you already know. Another option is Couchsurfing, but that seldom fosters long-lasting relationship, as people only meet for a short period of time when they travel to places.
"It's a hit or miss on whether you would actually have something in common," Placido says.
The biggest benefit of Triptrotting compared to Facebook or Couchsurfing is that the organization connects members with people they otherwise would have never met, she says. Triptrotting uses a special matching algorithm that helps members connect with people who they think they would be interested in meeting. "The matching algorithm looks into things like your interests, personality and background, and suggests Triptrotters that you would be the most interested in meeting," Placido adds.
Placido, a native of the Philippines who has lived in Phnom Penh since 2002, was a member of Couchsurfing before she discovered Triptrotting.
"When I heard and read about Triptrotting I found it interesting, and their idea is very fresh and different than Couchsurfing. I decided to apply as their advisor recently," Placido says.
A merchandising manager in the garment and textile industry, Placido loves travelling, something made possible from her line of work.
"This line of works takes me everywhere, to several countries in Southeast Asia from the Philippines, to Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam and, in more recent years, Cambodia," she says, adding that she also makes occasional business trips to Europe and the USA.
It was her husband's career in the garment and textile business that brought the couple to Cambodia before she winded up working in the same line of work. "With all my experiences in other Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia is the most interesting country," Placido says. "I fell in love with this country, with the people itself, with the culture."
At the upcoming event, or "Trip-up," Placido hopes to sign up 200 to 300 new members for the organization, which established a chapter in Phnom Penh about six months ago.
And that's just the beginning.
"I'm hoping to have at least 1000 plus new members," she says.
Admission for the Sept 9 event is $5. For more information about Triptrotting, visit www.triptrotting.com.