“Your local friend” – business idea for travellers

Use case

Many people come to the foreign countries and feel lost/confused traveling around and/or getting services. If possible, they like to go places with a local friend who will point out the best features, explain how things work and/or translate the requests into the local language. This is a service for those who do not have such a friend.

Basic business flow

  1. A service kiosk in the airport (visitor’s center) would hire out he mobile phones with GPS/Camera built-in. A visitor picks up the phone and gives his language preferences.
  2. At any point, the visitor can call the local service number on speed-dial and they will be helped with services that voice+GPS+SMS+Camera can do. For example:
    1. The agent answers the call in visitor’s language and can translate the communication between the visitor and locals (via speaker phone). If it is a sign, poster or written material, it can be photographed and sent to agent for explanation.
    2. The agent knows where the user is located (via GPS) and has internet access to street directories, toilet maps, phone directories, public transport, traffic maps, Google Earth view, local rules, etc.
  3. Therefore the agent can advise the visitor on any issues that visitor needs resolved (in their language). Any notes can be sent via SMS to ensure understanding/recall.

Additional features and up-sell opportunities

  1. If the visitor brought their different-standard phone over, use the service interface to automatically copy the phone numbers onto the new handset with automatic cheap rates via (for example) Rebtel number substitution. Or phone/Skype integration.
  2. Provide alarm, booking, etc services
  3. Provide audio tours via integration with GPS and IVR system
  4. If the visitor provides their social network credentials, integrate with those systems to post sent geocoded pictures to user’s account and/or provide two-way integration between SMS and Skype
  5. Provide language lessons (speed dial 8 for the “target language” taught by “your language” tutor)
  6. The service can be pitched as for emergency use only, so that the fee for hiring the phone without actually using it would be similar to car insurance (couple of dollars per day).


  1. The revenue would come from charging for the services (probably per minute) and for mediating 3rd party solutions such as Rebtel (surcharge per minute). Some services that are mostly IVR interface could probably be cheaper than human assisted ones.
  2. None of these services require phone agents to be present in the target country, only the sales agents and DID phone numbers. SIP trunks allow for that.
  3. Even sales agents could be minimised with booking the phone over the Internet, etc. Depending on the cost of the phones, they could be prepaid service or Credit Card deposit type.

This idea is released under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.