This sounds like a great idea – textamundo
1. Textamundo in 40 words
Textamundo is a new SMS service for travellers who need an answer to … well, just about anything. Send a text message, a real live human responds. It works from 198 countries and you can try it free at textamundo.com.
2. Textamundo in 120 words
If you have ever been on the road and wished you could get a quick answer to a question, then you’ll love Textamundo. This new service lets you ask a question by text from just about anywhere in the world. You can check the status on a flight, ask for a phone number or address, a timetable, a hotel suggestion, a sports score – whatever you need.
An agent will find the answer and text you back. The human aspect is the best thing about the service, as a person is more likely than a computer to find and filter accurate information for you. It works from 198 countries, costs 55p per answer, and you can try it free at textamundo.com.
3. Textamundo in 500 words
Technology may have revolutionised the travel industry, but sometimes you can’t beat the human touch. Take Textamundo, a new text messaging help service for travellers. If you’ve ever found yourself texting someone back home and asking them to check the internet, then you’ll get the idea. The perfect filter between a text message and a search engine turns out to be a person, who can decipher your question and reply with sensible location and user-specific answers.
“The typical Textamundo user is someone in a fix” says company founder, Denis Costello. “75% are overseas when they text us. A lot of questions are transport related, but they can ask for anything. In almost every case, the answer is on-line, and we can respond in less than ten minutes”. A surprisingly frequent category is the frustrated motorist who finds that their destination is not listed in their satnav system. “They send us the name of a hotel or whatever, and we send back the GPS coordinates which they key into the satnav”.
Costello says he saw the need for the service during years working on the road for technology companies. “I found myself paying ridiculous rates for WiFi access, just to go on-line for a minute to check something. And using a mobile for internet access overseas was even more expensive. A quick question by SMS to someone was always a better option”.
Textamundo replicates that “friend at home” approach, but offers it as a professional, 24/7 service. Each answer costs 55p, of which the answering agent gets about half. The service works from 198 countries, while the agent may be anywhere in the world. The agents tend to be helpful, well-travelled types who also know the byways of the internet, and how to sort through the dross to find an accurate answer.
In the future, more people may use internet services from their mobiles while travelling, but today it is only the “early adopters” and the price insensitive who use web services while roaming. In contrast, almost every mobile user is comfortable using SMS – and it is a robust and cheap method of communication. Costello says that most users so far are European-based, and this reflects the relatively low SMS usage in North America. “I think the next step will be to offer e-mail and instant-message access, to reach Blackberry and iPhone users. But SMS has got a long future yet”.
Is he worried about competing with automated SMS services like Google Mobile? “No. They are fine when you have a very specific query, like the weather report for a city. But for 99% of the questions that we get, Google Mobile will return ‘sorry, no results’. We couldn’t work without Google – but for our users out there with a mobile, it is the person in the middle that makes it work.”