country are 20 cents per minute, the same
rate as cellular calls.
Other carriers have more complicated
— and more expensive — ways to make
international calls. For example, AT&T
offers a three-tiered plan for coverage in
some 190 countries with base charges of
$30, $60 and $120. Each includes unlimited texting, but depending on the base
plan, a user could pay as much as $1 per
minute for calls and more for data.
In contrast, Wireless Traveler offers several popular solutions that travel advisers
can share with their clients. In addition
to renting and selling global phones, the
company has an eponymous app that offers international calling for as low as 2
cents per minute over WiFi. It is a voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) service
that is available wherever there is WiFi.
Rates vary by country, but for example,
a traveler in France could call another
country from the app for 3 cents per minute. Calling another person who has the
app is free.
The company also offers a white-label
version of the product, working with
agencies and tour operators such as Valerie Wilson Travel and Collette Tours to
create branded apps that offer the same
calling technology. Wireless Traveler also
has preferred-supplier relationships with
Virtuoso, Ensemble Travel Group and
others, according to CEO Ian Benson.
Valerie Wilson Travel Co-President
Kimberly Wilson Wetty said she uses her
company’s branded app when she travels
and is impressed with the quality of the
service for the price.
“It is the cheapest thing I have ever
used as a service,” she said, calling the
quality “so clear it was unbelievable.” Her
agency promotes the app to its clients, including leisure and corporate travelers.
Wetty particularly likes that the app
carries her agency’s name and logo, keeping it in the forefront of clients’ minds.
“As an agency owner, that’s one of the
concerns as we look at the increased ad-
vancement of travel technology,” she said.
“How do you maintain your own brand
and your own relevance in a world where
there’s information 24/7 and completely
at your fingertips?”
Elaine Carey, an affiliate of Travel Ex-
perts, uses the app as a gift that she gives
to some of her younger, more tech-savvy
clients. Before they travel abroad, she pre-
loads an app with $20 for them. It also
provides them with a good — and free,
for them — way to get in touch with her
if something goes wrong on their trip, she
Benson said that while some agents do
gift within the app, “not enough [do] in
my opinion. … I think it’s a fabulous gift
to give to somebody because
it’s so relevant.”
Nicole Mazza, chief mar-
keting officer of Travelsavers
and NEST, said the compa-
nies encourage their agents
to gift WiFi calling credit
within their Affluent Trav-
eler Talk App. Many use it as
a value-add for their clients.
In addition to the Wireless Traveler app, the company offers global SIM cards,
which Benson said are his
biggest sellers. They work in
most countries in the world
through partnerships with
some 400 carriers. The card
costs $24.99, with $15 of free
airtime included; it also includes a U.S. and European
Rates vary, but for example
outgoing calls from France to
the U.K. have a 40-cent connection fee
and are 65 cents per minute. Text messages and data are available at additional
Like the Wireless Traveler app, Benson
said there are agents who gift global SIM
cards to clients, as well as the company’s
pocket WiFi hotspots.
It is important to note that Wireless
Traveler’s global SIM cards only work on
unlocked GSM cell phones, meaning they
will not work with Verizon handsets.
Travelers could, of course, purchase
local SIM cards if
they have a compatible phone once they
reach their destination, but Benson said
he only recommends
that for longer stays
because it eats into
vacation time, and
the local cards cannot
travel from country to country. They also
expire after a set amount of time, while
the global SIM card does not.
ChatSim, another relatively new international telecom
service, is making its way into
the U.S., and its
investors are hoping agents here
will start using the
technology themselves and gifting
it to clients, as the
company is seeing
ChatSim is a SIM card that offers users
the ability to message on certain apps for
a baseline price of $12 per year. The card
itself is also about $12, but it does not expire at the end of the year.
ChatSim works on messaging apps
WhatsApp, Messenger, LINE, WeChat,
imo, Kakao Talk, QQi, Hike and BBM.
It provides coverage in 150 countries by
connecting to over 250 service providers.
Pierre Brais, an angel investor in
ChatSim, said the company differentiates
itself from others thanks to its flat annual
$12 fee to chat within compatible apps.
The card can be ordered online through
Amazon for $25, which includes the card
and the first year’s $12 fee.
For an extra $12, users can buy a multimedia package of 2,000 credits, which
they can use to send photos and make
voice calls within apps. ChatSim estimates
2,000 credits would give a user enough
bandwidth to send up to 200 photos or
50 videos or make up to 80 minutes of
voice calls. Brais said around 60% to 70%
of people buying the card are also buying
the multimedia option.
Costs are kept down by preventing other apps on a user’s phone from running in
the background, eating up data, according
“Our tests have shown that 90% of data
traffic on a smartphone now is used by
the background applications on your
phone,” he said, not
by what the user is
actually doing. The
ChatSim card automatically turns off
to limit the amount
of data used.
ChatSim has been on the market for
about a year, and 100,000 cards have been
sold, including to travel agents and tour
operators, who are gifting the cards or
selling them to clients.
The company attended the recent New
York Times Travel Show and got a positive
reaction from agents, Brais said, marking
the start of ChatSim’s push into the U.S.
Brais said the card works in most unlocked, SIM-capable phones, both GSM
and CDMA, meaning that unlike Wireless Traveler’s SIM cards the CDMA version of ChatSIM will work with Verizon
Continued from Page 1
Global coverage of Wireless Traveler and ChatSim
Wireless Traveler coverage*
Wireless Traveler &
* Countries with no SIM coverage:
• French Polynesia/Tahiti
Wireless Traveler and
ChatSim are two new telecom services that offer low
international calling rates
that travel agents can use
themselves or pass on to their
clients as gifts.
Travel adviser Elaine Carey
uses the Wireless Traveler
app as a gift to some of her
younger, tech-savvy clients.
Source: Wireless Traveler and ChatSim