Combining culture and commerce, a new virtual shopping tour provides the opportunity to buy handmade crafts and other items in real time while a video guide walks you through the markets of Marrakech.
Adventure tour company Intrepid Travel has partnered with startup Local Purse to offer a pair of "personalized live video shopping experiences" in the western Morocco city known for labyrinthine souks selling spices, rugs, candies, and a lot more amid snake charmers and musicians in the medina quarter's Jemaa el-Fna square.
The live video tours are led by Intrepid's professional and certified guides, who give viewers a real-time look at the marketplace's swirling ambience while sharing the sort of cultural and historical context you'd get on a private tour.
But this isn't just a passive experience. Viewers at home can actually buy the stuff they see on their screens.
When guides stop to interact with vendors, tour participants can ask questions as well as shop on the spot for herbs, spices, Berber rugs, and other items, which will then be wrapped up and shipped to buyers. (UPS keeps a handy list of stipulations relating to shipments from Morocco; food and cosmetics are subject to health inspections at customs.)
In a test launch earlier this month, shoppers paid around $12 apiece to join one of two group tours—one focused on wellness, the other on traditional Moroccan rugs. Both tours included visits to Al Nour, which sells handcrafted kaftans and other clothing made by women with disabilities.
Due to the popularity of the pilot program, Intrepid and Local Purse have decided to open the tours for private bookings beginning in January 2021.
To sign up, register for free at Local Purse's website and you'll be contacted with available dates. Tour prices will vary depending on individual guides' hourly rates.
According to Intrepid, all proceeds from purchases go directly to the local artisans, guides, and nonprofit groups involved—so virtual participants can rest assured that they're helping out Moroccan vendors and makers at a time when they have been adversely affected by 2020's sudden drop in tourism.
During the shopping experiences, secure purchases are made via a system similar to Instagram's live shopping feature, and shipping is free. Participants are under no obligation to buy anything.
The Guardian reports that the concept is set to be expanded to Lima, Istanbul, and Ho Chi Minh City early next year.