Innovation That Matters

In South Africa, concierge service via mobile phone rental

Travel & Tourism

The virtual ink had barely dried on our recent story about AtYourSide in Shanghai when word reached us of another personal guide service, again with an event-driven angle: Africa Talking, a South African concierge service that’s ideally positioned to benefit from all the visitors to next month’s World Cup. Africa Talking is a 24/7 concierge service for visitors to South Africa with dedicated travel, entertainment and emergency assistance. Upon arrival at any South African international airport, members receive a free Nokia 1208 mobile phone, complete with an Africa Talking SIM card and talktime. They can then use that phone during the course of their stay for help planning and arranging travel and entertainment throughout the country. Directions, rentals, tickets, reservations and all kinds of attraction advice are available from Africa Talking via its phones, which can be used for personal calls as well; in fact, users can save up to 70 percent of their roaming costs when they use their Africa Talking phone, the company says. In emergencies, meanwhile, the Africa Talking mobile phone serves as a tracking device that lets the Cape Town-based company immediately recognize users and see where they are, enabling it to quickly provide directions, dispatch a taxi or arrange emergency assistance. Last but not least, at the conclusion of any trip, users can drop off their used handsets at the airport; from there, they will be resold, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to a local South Africa charity. Membership in Africa Talking ranges from GBP 29 for a single trip to GBP 169 for multiple trips over the course of a year. Concierge and guide services can make good sense at any time of year, of course—particularly for business travellers—but large, international events increase the potential demand many times over. Those in major host countries around the globe: one to emulate for the masses of visitors coming soon to an event near you…? Spotted by: Raymond Kollau



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