Augmented Travel

Soon we will be able to check-in on our phones while traveling in Europe, Google Map a temple in Southeast Asia and replace our #latergrams with #instagrams.

Last week, T-Mobile announced that it will be eliminating international data roaming fees in more than 100 countries.  As demand for international data roaming increases with increased penetration of smartphones and usage of mobile apps, it becomes more necessary to allow individuals to use their phones abroad.  Currently, business customers generate the majority of roaming revenue, but we can expect revenue from individual usage to grow in the coming years.   According to a report by Hot Telecom, global data roaming traffic is expected to grow 97 percent between 2012 and 2015 and global voice traffic to increase 39 percent.  During 2007-2012, international data roaming grew by 630 percent in the European Union.

T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” strategy comes at a time when leisure travel continues to increase and business travel spending is expected to be over a trillion dollars in 2013 and grow by 8.2% in 2014.  With these trends, we can expect that other carriers will follow in providing more affordable or even free international data roaming and messaging.  Travel will become easier and itineraries will become more spontaneous rather than planned with increased access to information for the traveler.  What comes to mind are augmented reality applications that provide a solution to the needs shared by every traveler, which are to receive curated recommendations, discover a new place, learn something new and share the experience with friends.

I was in Amsterdam a few weekends ago and found it incredibly hard to navigate my way back to my hotel when I had ventured too far away.  And if you haven’t been to Amsterdam already, I will tell you now that all the cobblestone streets look the same with the canal running between the canal houses.  Dining was also a challenge as I had no idea where the “hot” local spots were and all the recommendations I had received from the concierge and guide books suggested that I eat at 5-star restaurants for tourists.  Although I really enjoyed finding my own local gems, I couldn’t help but think that I was missing something truly unique.  I had Yelped from the hotel but found that the reviews were from other tourists, and what I was really looking for were recommendations and reviews from locals.  I found myself traveling with 3 different maps and notes scribbled all over them as I could not access internet or any apps once I had left the hotel.  I had also written down the names of places or landmarks that I came across and would later google them to learn more about them.  I know, too much work…

Below are a few apps that I am looking forward to using in my future travels!

Like A Local (http://www.likealocalguide.com/) offers curated recommendations from locals to help travelers discover local eateries, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, etc.  What I like most about this app is that the recommendations are all from local experts and it has both an offline and online component.  The user is able to access maps and recommendations while offline.  Once online, the app is able to show recommendations that are open and near your current location.

likealocal like a local 2

like a local 3 like a local 4

Tagwhat (http://www.tagwhat.com/) provides recommendations and local deals or events based on a user’s location and surroundings.  Tagwhat gathers user-generated content near a specific location and information from Wikipedia as well as other open sources to provide real-time content.  Deals are shared from social networks such as Foursquare and Facebook.  Individuals are able to filter their recommendations by choosing which channels to feed their stream of content.

Although Tagwhat does not offer the personal reviews and tips from local experts such as Like a Local does, it has a great history component to it because it pulls content from Wikipedia.  I also like that it offers current deals and event information.

 image (1)image (6)  image (4) image (5)

Comparing Like A Local and Tagwhat to some other travel apps…

Wikitude does not allow a user to easily filter the many nearby points of interest (less is more…just like the Cheesecake Factory menu, it can be overwhelming with too many listed options), compare reviews and receive local tips or deals.

Localmind attempts to provide the most real-time local expert advice by allowing users to submit a question (e.g. “Can you recommend a café near my location?”), which is sent to a number of individuals who are identified as experts because of their frequent visit to those locations.  However, the responses can take time and are not as detailed.  Additionally, there is no general information on the identified nearby points of interest.

And when I get Google Glass, I cannot wait to use…

Field Trip (http://www.fieldtripper.com/glass/)!  So cool!

I wish Peek (http://www.peek.com/) would be available on mobile!  Peek curates activities based on various travel styles and allows individuals to automatically purchase the activities (Peek partners with local vendors to offer a range of activity options).  My favorite feature on Peek is its “Perfect Day”, which includes itineraries, unique advice and shared experiences from its tastemakers.  I envision being able to read a tastemaker’s perfect day about the city I’m currently in and be able to purchase an activity based on their recommendations.

Peek perfect day Peek2

Share with me your thoughts on international data roaming and travel apps @tiffanydstone or comment below!

Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57606784-94/t-mobile-to-offer-free-unlimited-international-data-texts/http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2425436,00.asphttp://investor.t-mobile.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=177745&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1863211&highlight=, http://www.telecoms.com/22538/roaming-revenues-to-jump-86-by-2015/http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-10/t-mobile-gets-rid-of-international-roaming-fees-shaming-competitors, Ericsson Mobility Report – June 2013

“I’ll Pay You Back” or “I’ll Venmo It”

“I’ll pay you back”.  I’ve said this.  You’ve said this.  We’ve all at some point told someone this.  As the lender, you’re too embarrassed to remind the borrower to pay you back.  As the borrower, you struggle to find the most convenient, fee-free way to pay your lender back in a timely manner.

This past July 4th, my friends and I decided to spend the afternoon sailing along the coast of Lower Manhattan.  We made a reservation with Tribeca Sailing (http://tribecasailing.com/) and were asked to put down a $450 deposit.  I offered to make the upfront payment and asked that my friends pay me back.  Our money was well spent as we enjoyed beautiful California weather in New York, views of the financial district and the Statue of Liberty.  At the end of our lovely excursion, the awkward conversation about paying me back was inevitably brought up.  One of my friends quickly responded, “I’ll Venmo it to you!”  Another friend paid me in cash and the three other friends forgot.  It wasn’t until 2-3 weeks later until I had been fully repaid.  I kept thinking how easy and guilt-free it was for my first friend to pay me back using Venmo.

Ever since my friends and I discovered Venmo, our concerns with lending money or returning money have disappeared.  Venmo allows its users to instantly pay, receive and transfer money with each other for free via mobile device.  Unlike a bank account transfer that charges an external transfer fee for sending money to an account at another bank, there are no fees for bank account transfers or debit card payments on Venmo.  All transactions are free if you pay with Venmo balance, bank transfer, or valid debit card.  No longer will you have to pay the $3 fee for transferring money from your Bank of America account to your friends Wells Fargo account or pay an ATM fee for withdrawing cash.

Personal Account Page:

Venmo Account View

Transaction Page:

Venmo Transaction Page

There are only 2 requirements for using Venmo:

1. Physically be in the U.S.

2. A text message-enabled U.S. phone

One of the biggest concerns with Venmo is the security of a user’s account.  Many of my friends still refuse to use Venmo because they fear the possibility of someone hacking into their Venmo account and accessing their bank account information.  I will attempt to simplify how Venmo secures transactions and your accounts to help calm your fears about Venmo (Friends, read this, add me on Venmo and let’s practice splitting the bill over drinks!).

  • All financial information is encrypted on Venmo, which includes your bank account information and debit/credit card number.  And like all other credit card transactions, you are able to file a dispute with your credit card company and bank for any charges you think are fraudulent.
  • All personal information is stored and processed using third party servers located in secure data centers in the U.S.  The information is protected by physical, electronic and procedural safeguards in compliance with applicable US federal and state regulations.
  • Any data exchanged between one account holder to another are sent securely over a 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted connection, verified by VeriSign in order to prevent any third party interception.
    • What is SSL? SSL is a security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server (website)/mail server (Outlook) and a visitor’s browser/mail client.  When using SSL, all data exchanged over the internet is encrypted, including login credentials.
    • An SSL Certificate is needed to establish a secure connection.  The SSL Certificate verifies that a trusted third party has authenticated that organization’s identity.  All online businesses or websites that accept credit cards online require an SSL Certificate for website security.
  • All accounts on Venmo have bank-grade security and FDIC insurance.  FDIC insurance protects you against the loss of your bank deposits if an FDIC-insured bank or institution fails.  FDIC insurance is backed by the United States government.   Venmo guarantees all user funds against any unauthorized transactions.
  • When you send or receive money on Venmo, it’s actually put into a custodial account with Wells Fargo.   A custodial account is a trust account owned by an individual or institution, managed by a named party for purposes of rapid distribution of funds in that account.

For more information: https://help.venmo.com/customer/portal/articles/659272-is-venmo-safe-

Another reason to try out Venmo…

There is even a social aspect to the Venmo app as you are able to label and share your transactions with friends through a newsfeed (i.e. “Tiffany paid Teresa for Karaoke!”).