hospitality industry

In charge of our cities

Hometown. If you think about it, the junction of home+town means so much to us. They can get to a point of shaping who we are: our points of view, our teams, our favorite places, our memories. It all comes from our experiences in our hometowns. And that’s why it gets personal when someone tries to change them somehow.

We’ve all had a favorite place from childhood torn down, just to be replaced by some big business parking lot? It’s upseting, to say the least. As Dennis Schaal, Executive Editor at Skift, says “Tourism development versus the locals is an issue that cities and countries worldwide have to grapple with. There’s no magic formula for striking the right balance.”

Even in tough times, the Hospitality Tourism and Service Industries thrive, as people always need a break. So, how can cities take advantage of this economical opportunity without imposing unfair changes to residents, and allowing them to profit as well? Well… just the other day, your options when traveling were hotels or camping, public transportation or taxis. Startups like AirBnb, Lyft, Uber and others have changed this and gave ordinary people a chance to have a share of the profitable Hospitality market. People who were used to just observing the changes around them can now participate and profit from them.

The challenge to the cities remains, though. The report “Advances in Hospitality, Tourism and the Services Industry” highlights the importance for them to work with the locals, in order to identify core values and goals for tourism in their community. Who better than the experts in the communities, a.k.a residents, to establish these goals?

Well, the subject is complex, and there are more questions than answers right now. It’s also very specific to each city and its own issues. But there’s one certainty in all this: residents should care and should participate. Remember, everybody is a resident for some days and a tourist other days. If we choose to be the best at each of these roles, we contribute to a balance between great cities and tourism development.

And you know what’s even better? There’s never been a better moment to take on these roles. “Sharing market startups, like Lyft, Uber, AirBnB and City Catt, give residents an opportunity to profit from the Hospitality market, but also to shape it; and tourists gain access to a much more authentic, smooth and affordable experience”, says City Catt co-founder Lizia Santos. Power to the people! 🙂


— By the City Catt Team 😽

How to spend a perfect Saturday in Seattle

Seattle is the ultimate destination for travelers looking for a superior foodie scene, live music, and surrounding evergreen forests. For the perfect mix of metropolitan, city life and a nature escape, Seattle offers access to both.


Jumpstart your morning

Kick off your morning with one of Café Diablo’s killer Cuban style coffee drinks and a slice of their famous coconut bread, just located on the top of Queen Anne. Following breakfast, only a ten-minute walk away is Kerry Park, where you can find the notorious panoramic view of Seattle’s skyline.

For those looking for an outdoor escape in the bustling city, head to Discovery Park for a stroll through miles of walking paths. Enjoy the evergreen forest scenery and stretches of beach along the Puget Sound.

For a more cultural experience, walk or take the city bus down Queen Anne Hill to the MoPOP Museum (Museum of Pop Culture) for a taste of Seattle’s music and pop culture scene. Located on the Seattle Center Campus inside the multicolored architectural phenomenon that supposedly resembles a smashed electric guitar. Pay homage to Seattle musical legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Pearl Jam.

Other sites to explore nearby include:

The Space Needle – Take a 520 ft. elevator ride up Seattle’s most iconic historical landmark to their observation deck to check out the city’s best vantage point.
Chihuly Garden and Glass – Just below the Space Needle, this glass may be one of the most surprising and fascinating experience in the city and definitely worth a visit.


Have lunch and have fun

After working up an appetite, make your way downtown along Elliot Bay’s waterfront to Pike Place Market for some lunch and to witness the legendary fish-tossing vendors. For some of Seattle’s best seafood, grab a table at Matt’s in the Market. Be sure to order the steamed mussels & clams with chorizo or the market fish for a true taste of Pike Place’s freshest catch.

Also worth checking out at Pike Place are:

  • Floral Vendors – Famous in Seattle’s market be sure to grab a bouquet or just enjoy the astonishing range of local flowers lining the market’s hallways.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – Deemed the world’s best Mac ‘n Cheese as well as one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things” this cheese maker serves up some delicious goodies you will want to indulge in.
  • The Gum Wall – Located below the market on Post Alley, this strangely notorious brick wall is completely covered by used chewing gum. Take a short walk for a strange, yet legendary photo opt.
  • The Nest, Thompson Hotel – At the top of this contemporary hotel is one of the best rooftop bars in Seattle. Order from their list of artisanal cocktails and soak up the sweeping views of Elliot Bay and Seattle’s waterfront piers.


Dinner for all tastes

For dinner plans, check out some of the local favorites:

  • Momiji – Head to Seattle’s trendiest neighborhood, Capitol Hill, an excellent local sushi spot in the city. Reserve a table on their back garden patio for beautiful food and atmosphere.
  • Crow – Located in lower Queen Anne, this cozy, dim-lit restaurant serves up arguably the best, roasted chicken in Seattle. Ask for a table at the bar to witness their expert chefs cook up your meal as you sip on some great cocktails or craft beer.
  • Oyster Annex House – The perfect seafood spot in old town Ballard, one of Seattle’s most historic Scandinavian neighborhoods. Definitely stop in for happy hour to taste some delicious samplings of seafood appetizers, including fried clams, oysters, chowder, and fish & chips.


 Alexis is a Seattelite currently living in Rome. Her mom was a flight attendant, so traveling became an engrained part of her life. Apart from exploring new destinations, she’s also an avid health nut. Her passions for travel and health collided, resulting in her blog, Love & Layovers, where she shares her insights and discoveries on health, wellness and travel to empower others to lead a healthier lifestyle and to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure. You can contact her at or check out her Instagram account, @loveandlayover


Top 10 San Francisco Hidden Gems

Even for life long Bay Area-nites, San Francisco can always find a way to jumpstart your curiosity. Every city-dweller has their favorite getaway, but what if you’re hungry for something new and serendipitous in your favorite city by the bay?

To shake up your trip or daily routine, here are the top 10 hidden gems you can find in San Francisco:


343 Sansome Roof Garden

sansome roof tower

Sansome Roof Tower

Deep in the concrete jungle that is the Financial District, there is a hidden oasis where you least expect it. On the 15th floor of 343 Sansome Street, you will discover a hidden garden, freely open to the public. With verdant trees, intoxicating lilies, and plenty of seats, this is a perfect place to grab a sandwich and take a tranquil breather.


Workshop Cafe

workshop cafe

Workshop Cafe

If you’re looking for a perfect place to get things done, without paying astronomical prices for using a coffee shop’s wifi, the Workshop Cafe is your salvation. The cafe not only makes the best cappuccino in San Francisco, but it also provides a wallet- friendly way to find fast wifi at $2 an hour. Whether you are a visiting business owner or a local creative, this is a great place to work in silence.


Boba guys

boba guys

Boba Guys

If you’re a fan of milk tea, Boba Guys will be sure to top Starbucks as your latest necessary luxury. This cult business has grown exponentially since its founding in 2011. Although there are several locations, the tucked away store near Union Square is a local favorite. Featuring a wide variety of specialty drinks from matcha to jasmine to horchata, the extensive menu allows you to choose the perfect drink to suit your palette.


Flora Grubb Gardens

flora grub gardens

Flora Grub Gardens

To channel your inner botanist, the Flora Grubb Gardens can teach you the best ways to make your plants prosper. Segregating the plants based on sun exposure, you will be fascinated by how the arrangements are placed. From discovering a family of succulents in an antiquated Corvette to dangling sweet peas floating above your head, this is an exquisite place for everyone.


Wave Organ

wave organ

Wave Organ

Sprinkled along the San Francisco bay, The Wave Organ is a living musical instrument which is played by the ocean. Crafted from carved granite and marble, the subtle music created here must be heard to be believed. Come here at high tide to experience the finest music.


Seward Street Slides

seward street slide

Seward Street Slide

When you’re greeted with signs stating “No adults unless accompanied by a child,” you know that you’re in for a fun ride. Surrounded by Seward Park, all you need is a bit of cardboard to slide down to the bottom and feel like a kid for the day.


Lover’s Lane Trail and Wood Line: Presidio National Park

lovers lane

Lovers Lane

For a taste of the great outdoors, Lover’s Lane is one of the most underrated hiking spots in San Francisco. With fragrant eucalyptus trees flanking the trail, follow the trail of trees all the way to the top for a refreshing walk. Like the name suggests, this is a lovely spot for active couples and families alike.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

16th avenue tile steps

16th Avenue Tile Steps

If you’re looking for a beautiful yet functional work of art, The Tiled Steps on 16th avenue are definitely a feast for the eyes. Evoking images of the ebb and flow of the ocean, the mosaic stairway leads you to extensive views of San Francisco’s Sunset district. For the best view, climb to the top at twilight.


Alison Koenig is a writer crafting nonfiction about technology and traveling. After traveling extensively with long stints in Italy and Sweden, she now lives in Northern California to nurture her career aspirations and adventurous lifestyle.




Seattle or San Francisco: Rain, Fog, or Shine

It was a sunny July day when I left Seattle for San Francisco. Two days later I was shivering on the beach wearing every item of clothing I had with me watching muted fireworks explosions through the fog on the 4th of July. Fun fact: it’s not always sunny in California, and Seattle isn’t constantly rainy. Having lived in both San Francisco and Seattle, I’ve got tips on the best sights and activities no matter the weather.

San Francisco, Golden or Gloomy

San Francisco on a sunny day is glorious, but if sun’s what you’re after, visit in spring or fall, not summer. Summer in San Francisco is typically cold and foggy, and an excellent time to make day trips to Napa or Sonoma which aren’t affected by the coastal gloom and happen to be full of excellent wine.

If you are in the city on an overcast day, this can be an excellent time to take advantage of San Francisco’s great museums, especially the lesser-known Walt Disney Family Museum or the iconic Cable Car Museum.

Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

A stop at The Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee (where this caffeinated cocktail was perfected) is another excellent way to warm up, and it’s conveniently located between Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, two tourist meccas you’re likely to visit no matter the weather.

If you know enough to visit in the spring or fall for a sunny trip, you probably already know about the tourist highlights: Golden Gate Park, a walk across the bridge by the same name, Dolores Park, Ocean Beach, Sutro Baths, etc. Here are a few unique experiences best enjoyed on a sunny day:

Angel Island is a short ferry ride into the bay and offers incredible sweeping views of the city. Rent bikes for a pleasant and not too challenging ride around the island which is virtually devoid of cars.

Coit Tower also offers beautiful vistas of the water and the city and is located near iconic crooked Lombard Street for checking things off your tourist bucket list. The monument offers great views even from its base, which is free to visit, or for a small fee you can take an elevator to the top for a true change in perspective.

Seattle, Damp or Dry

Summer is the season to visit Seattle. Full disclosure, there may be a slight drizzle some mornings, but most days are warm and dry.

Spending time on the water in Seattle is the ideal way to celebrate the sun. There are myriad boat tours to be had on Lake Union, beach days and bonfires on the Puget Sound – Golden Gardens is a local favorite – or laid-back relaxing in an oversize floatie on Green Lake. Stand Up Paddleboards are readily available to rent at any of these locations as well.

green lake seattle

Green Lake – Seattle


Other lesser-known outdoor adventures include the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is downtown just past all of the tourist-focused waterfront and Seattle’s small but lovely Woodland Park Zoo, which feels like a botanical garden with animals tucked away in the foliage.

Given the good chance of rain most of the year, having an indoor backup plan is wise. MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture has exhibits focused on Seattle’s music scene, all things sci-fi, and an excellent array of rotating exhibits.

My favorite place to take visitors is the Future of Flight Boeing Factory Tour, which is just north of the city. It’s truly incredible to visit the warehouses that are the size of small cities and watch airplanes come together before your very eyes.

No  matter which left coast city you visit in any type of weather, you’re sure to have a good time enjoying either of these lovely cities full of culture, natural beauty and unique experiences. Enjoy!


Christina is a So Cal native who now calls Seattle home. She loves to explore cities on foot, eat all the things, dance, and shop. When she’s not doing any of those things, you’ll find her on the couch, snuggling her French Bulldogs and knitting.


City Catt Launches partnership to promote Autism-Friendly trips

Published by IBCCES on 07/13/2019

IBCCES is excited to announce our recent partnership with City Catt, a P2P Trip Planning Startup, to help families with individuals on the autism spectrum plan autism-friendly trips around their sensory challenges.

The new program, called Autism on the Go, connects traveling families with trained and certified residents living in their destination cities that help them find the best places to visit and accommodate their needs. Starting today, City Catt is recruiting locals interested in working as Autism Certified Catts.

City Catt’s model connects any traveler with like-minded locals – called Catts – that can help them plan autism-friendly trips to their cities. By partnering with IBCCES, they are now able to connect families and individuals with Catts who are also Autism Certified living in these destination cities.

The platform already has Catts in 29 US states and is expanding! Travelers and their families have specific needs and expectations, and by being able to talk to locals, they can ask questions, get suggestions and build a customized itinerary, instead of scavenging the web for reliable information.

Learn more about the program at

authentic attractions

Authentic vs Touristy. How should you travel?

Authentic travel is all the hype now, and those of you that appreciate the good ol’ touristy attractions, may be feeling some prejudice coming your way just because you’re pictures are not #wanderlust worthy, or so they say.

Well, us at City Catt for once think that both touristy and authentic have its place in the realm of awesome trips. But, since “touristy” is fairly easy to be achieved, here are some tips on how to go full on “authentic” on your next trip.


Know the country and its people

Authentic travel means you can experiment with the best and the worse of each country. And it also means your concept of best and worse will have to be largely widened. Try wearing the cultural glasses of the place you’re visiting. Leave your prejudice at home.
When you choose the authentic travel path, you know things won’t be roses and sunshine and that’s what makes the experience more unique: you are meeting real people, not characters on some well scripted Hollywood movie.


Go beyond pre-packaged attractions

Now, we’re not saying you´ll be the one to reinvent a country, but one of the rules of authentic travel is looking beyond the pre-packaged attractions. It’s sort of like a game. While everyone else goes to the famous X attraction, you’re that exotic character who’ll get extra points for going for “attractions” Y or Z.


Travel = learning

Authentic traveling is like a BOGO deal. You have fun and end up learning tons. Once in contact with everyday people all around the world, and their struggles and successes, this will be a time where you can reevaluate yourself and your own way of life. Maybe your problems will become smaller, or you may find out there are different ways to solve it. One thing is for sure, authentic travel is a one-way journey to endless learning.


New cultures, all the same needs

While many countries speak different languages, universally speaking we’re all the same. At the end of the day, we all need food, water, a loving family and a roof over our heads to keep living. In your search for authentic travel, try learning the different ways people have adopted in order to fulfill those needs. You’ll be surprised to learn there are many ways to love, live and laugh!

Beyond meeting new places, travel can be a way to realize how we all are human and labeling things as “better” or “worse”, or 2 stars and 5 stars might sometimes keep you from getting to know this imperfect yet wonderful world!


— By the City Catt Team 😽