Keeping In Touch While Abroad: One on One With ChatSim Founder Pierre Brais
It’s no secret vacationers expect to use their smartphones as much — if not more — when traveling as when staying home. Travelers also want to use their phones almost anywhere in the world. The problem is cost: even “specialized” overseas calling plans offered by U.S. wireless companies are frequently costly and complex. Travel apps, global SIM cards and related services generally offer rates that are superior to wireless companies, but many also expire at year’s end.
ChatSim, a new international telecom service, is hoping to establish a foothold with travel sellers and their leisure clients by providing a superior solution. Led by founding partner Pierre Brais, ChatSim’s SIM card for travelers allows users to message on apps including WhatsApp, Messenger, LINE and WeChat for a flat $12 annual rate. Purchasers can also buy a 2,000-credit multimedia package to send photos and make voice calls, but the service is primarily built around messaging’s popularity among smartphone users. We spoke recently with Brais to discuss ChatSim’s applications for travelers.
TravelPulse: What are the advantages for travelers using ChatSim?
Pierre Brais: There’s no fear about racking up huge roaming bills. For just $12 a year, people can exchange an unlimited amount of messages or emojis – without the need for Wi-Fi – in a huge array of popular countries, now over 150. No longer do holiday-makers have to wait until they find a Wi-Fi hotspot when they land on foreign turf, or worry about not being able to get in touch with loved ones for fear of the cost.
TP: How does the card work?
PB: When you’re visiting another country, swap in your ChatSim SIM card and your smartphone will instantly connect to a local operator – it’s that easy. You can then message friends and family, using any of the compatible chat apps already on your phone, including WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Telegram, BBM, Hike, Kakao, Line, QQ and IMO.
READ MORE: It's All in the Cards!
TP: Does the card provide options for voice and photo sharing as well as messaging?
PB: Yes. People can also buy credits to add extra data-hungry services, including photo and video sending and voice calls. For $12, you can add 2,000 credits to your account, which will cover up to 200 photos, up to 40 videos or up to 80 minutes of voice calls through compatible apps. $30 buys 5,000 credits, and $60 buys 10,000 credits.
TP: How does ChatSim compare with international data and voice services provided by carriers like AT&T and TMobile?
PB: Typically, roaming is incredibly expensive. Even if your operator allows you to buy an additional international bundle of data, voice or texts, these are very expensive — and the cost soon adds up over the duration of your trip. ChatSim solves this problem, allowing you to use your smartphone just as you would at home at a very affordable rate.
TP: What is the greatest advantage of using ChatSim?
PB: We know lots of travelers prefer to communicate via their messaging apps – at home or abroad. ChatSim provides a simple and affordable solution for them to continue to do so, saving them a huge amount of money in the process. They can now share their experiences when they happen as they would at home. ChatSim is a no fuss, simple and affordable solution for the global traveler.
TP: How can travel agencies use the card?
PB: Travel agencies can either gift them to clients or re-sell them and be seen to be responsive to their customers’ needs. Many agencies have told us that when they send their staff to meet clients as they get off the plane in a foreign country the number one question they get is “And my phone?”
They can now address that question with a simple and cost-effective solution. Some tour operators have started to use them as a means for them to keep in touch with the tour group and be able to notify them all of changes instantly.
We currently have distribution partners in over 50 countries and estimate that about 30 percent fall into the travel space. The typical travel agent will purchase from 10 to 100 units at a time.
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