This is a Travel innovation from The 70 Best Trend-Driven Innovations of 2019.

Launched this month, Sidekick is a platform that lets tourists in South Korea consult locals for recommendations in real-time. Users can chat with residents via their app of choice (LINE, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat) for travel advice and assistance. Local ‘sidekicks’ provide tips on topics including restaurants, shopping, etiquette and culture. The service connects tourists with Korean, English and Japanese speakers with day passes starting at USD 20.

Sidekick is far from the first to text-a-local concept for travelers - similar initiatives include Cool Cousin and Jetzy. Yet this peer-to-peer innovation taps into real human needs and cultural shifts that are worth paying attention to. Let’s dive in!

Wake from the fake. Consumers don’t have time to sift through the mountains of choices available to them in every category. They want to hear from real people who can whittle the options down, hence online reviews and the influencer economy. But consumers are waking up to the flaws with both those options. Two examples? Fake reviews multiply during Prime Day and influencers’ fake followers cost brands USD 1.3 billion. If your brand offers advice or wants to reassure customers, consider an approach like Sidekick’s to earn trust. Can you help consumers connect one-on-one with peers (who aren’t paid to say nice things)?

Having the best (real)time. If your brand is working on hyper-personalizing services for customers, think beyond just serving them based on who they are. Can you tailor your offering to where they are and what they’re doing at the time? Sidekick lets users book a day pass for immediate access while they’re exploring South Korea. The eradication of delay (even by a few minutes) in information delivery is a powerful target to aim for. It ain’t just call centers that need to reduce response time! What steps are you taking?

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