App arranges company for solo travelers. Is it worth it or is it a rip off? – 10/19/2022

Luanna Araújo, 26, from Maranhão, was going to take part in a federal contest in Recife. It would be her first trip to another city-and, of course, she was tense. “I didn’t know anyone there,” she recalls.

That’s when she had the idea of ​​looking for a service that would help her find other people with the same fate. She found an app with a curious name: Penguin. And, on the platform, she met the businessman Eduardo Alvino, 37, from Recife, who introduced the city and also Porto de Galinhas to Luanna.

“I showed her everything I knew, the main points”, he says. He himself also plans to use Penguin in the future, but as the tourist, not the companion. “I like the ease of communication and the directions of places”, he summarizes.

Penguins in real life don’t fly, but the app is taking off. “We’ve just been elected the best travel tech in Latin America. Wow! This is really cool, a Brazilian startup, of women, being considered one of the 6 best in the world right after a pandemic! We are very proud!”, celebrates Renata Franco, executive director.

The statup was also chosen to represent Brazilian travel techs (technology companies linked to travel services) at the WebSummit, Europe’s largest digital culture event, which takes place in Lisbon between November 1st and 4th.

“Tourism Tinder”

Veve and Milena met on the travel app and built a friendship - Personal Collection - Personal Collection

Veve and Milena met on the travel app and built a friendship

Image: Personal Collection

At first glance, the application looks like others dedicated to the segment: it has travel packages, flights and bus tickets. The difference is that the user can create an account, as if it were an Instagram, and inform others of their destinations – whether it’s a trip already scheduled or just wanted.

The algorithm helps to find people who already live or are also going there.

The idea caught the attention of lawyer Veve Dias, 32, from Niterói (RJ). “I downloaded and put my destination: Fernando de Noronha”, she recalls. “I’ve found all kinds of travelers there, from those who have no limits to spend to those who like a ‘chic up’ like me. And they’re all very willing to give tips and share their experience.”

The companion chosen was Milena Santos, from São Paulo. “I was already going with a friend. Mi went a day later. We had already exchanged WhatsApp and as soon as she arrived, she found us at the beach. After that, we were together on every ride.”

The connection lasts to this day. “I’m going to her house soon! Friendship of millions!” she jokes.

The relationship with the app is also yielding. “Now whenever I go somewhere, I put it there. I was going to find some penguins [como são chamados os usuários] at Rock in Rio, but unfortunately, because of work, I couldn’t go. But I gave tips about the city!”

Recurring users help explain the app’s success. Publicist Larissa Miranda, 26, from Salvador, has already met “at least five people” in several cities.

Larissa Miranda, a publicist from Bahia, collects experiences as recommended by her travel companions in the app - Personal Collection - Personal Collection

Larissa Miranda, from Bahia, collects experiences as recommended by her travel companions on the app

Image: Personal Collection

Before closing partnerships, she recommends checking the candidates’ social networks. “That way we get to know each other better, have a certain security to meet and also facilitate communication.”

“Some [experiências] were pretty cool, like having access to a totally restricted place in the city, as it is the work place of one of the ‘penguins’. I’ve taken a tour that I wouldn’t normally do, but, due to the excitement and influence of one of them, it turned out to be amazing. I’ve also had company in places I wouldn’t go alone.”

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