One of the first things I did when I moved to Paris back in 2000 was go get a cell phone, it was my first. Even back then I couldn’t manage not staying connected in this very social city. Sixteen years and a gazillion technological light years away, today I couldn’t imagine surviving in this city without, not just any phone – a smartphone. As such, when I was e-introduced to Nina Forlani, I was intrigued to learn about the unique new smartphone rental company which she created with her brother: INSIDR. Nina and I met for coffee and she gave me the inside scoop on these much beyond average phones which connect visitors to the real pulse of Paris and now all over Europe. If you want to cut to the chase, skip straight to our sum up of Insidr here.
Tell us a little about yourself (and Benjamin)
We are sixth-generation Parisian siblings. We both share the same love for travel; Ben has lived in more than 20 countries with a long stay in Japan, and I have lived in Asia for a stint too. We also absolutely love our home city. Despite these similarities, however, we have very different backgrounds. Ben is a former consultant in financial strategy working for a big firm and I was a fashion designer!
What exactly is INSIDR?
We provide tourists coming to Paris with a smartphone, which functions as an interactive, digital travel guide. The INSIDR smartphones are equipped with unlimited 4G and calls within France and act as a WIFI hotspot across Europe to solve traveler’s connectivity issues whilst travelling abroad. But that’s not all! We aim is to give travelers a practical tool that gives them access to the Parisians for a more authentic travel experience. With our smartphones, you will have access to our specialized maps which point you to the very best spots Paris has to offer (and now around the country and Europe too), all recommended by locals, so whether you are looking for an outdoor terrace for a cocktail or a cozy café for brunch or a hidden museum open on a Sunday, your answers are but a click away!
On top of that, all our travelers have instant access to a community of Parisians who give them live responses to their Paris related questions; whether that be a query about transport or recommendations for a place to eat, the INSIDERS have got you covered.
How was the project born?
Our passion for Paris, as well as our experience as AirBnB hosts led us to create INSIDR Paris. We felt the travellers we came in contact with in Paris were seeking a rich, authentic travel experience, yet often ended up doing the same-old mass tourism activities that didn’t reflect the city we know and love – and as Ben and I were both looking for a career change, we decided to create a business which tackled these issues!
What makes INSIDR different from other phone rentals or buying a local sim card?
From the get go, we wanted to created a much more personable service that addresses the needs of tourists than what is currently available on the market. Our maps are equipped with over hundreds of recommendations that we constantly update, so you don’t need to trawl through endless blogs and articles to find the most current, trendy things to do in Paris and around Europe – with our phone it’s all in one place, and just one click away – you certainly don’t get that by buying a SIM card! Our community of Parisians who are ready to answer your questions via our smartphones is unique to INSIDR. We have also carefully selected the most useful apps & services for travelers in Paris (and expanding across Europe), so instead of a generic SIM card, our phones are geared to helping tourists have the best trip!
Where are your clients mostly from?
They are from all over the world, but we have a lot of travelers coming from American, Canada and Australia as well as from Asia (Taiwan and Singapore), Latin America and occasionally Europe.
Have any surprises come up since the launch?
We have been pleasantly surprised how our business is growing thanks to word of mouth! Many of our travelers share how they enjoyed using INSIDR with their friends and family so our own customers become INSIDR ambassador’s.
It has also been a nice surprise to see the many hotels and companies that initially turned their nose up at INSIDR when we were small, but we are finding more and more that as our start-up is expanding, these same hotels and the ones approaching us, the tables are definitely turning!
How have most of your customers found out about you?
We have partnered with some wonderful apartment rental companies who recommend our services to their guests, so a lot of our clients hear of us through apartment hosts. Word of mouth has also been very effective as well as people who are googling questions about internet connectivity abroad and Paris tips.
What have you learnt from the endeavor so far?
It certainly has been an intense rollercoaster of an adventure. There has been ups and downs, but all in all it has been a steep, but enjoyable learning curve! This year has been tough for everyone working in tourism, but that’s taught Ben and I real stick ability and creative thinking in our business strategies!
What’s next? Do you have any connected projects or enhancements coming up?
We’re currently working on two new features which we will be adding to our phones very soon! Our INSIDR Walks are guided walks around Paris that you can follow on the INSIDR smartphones! We also have a Paris expert map which share with our travelers the top addresses of our favorite Paris bloggers!
Merci beaucoup Nina! Rental fees for a INSIDR phone start from 30 euros which includes delivery and a personal instructional tutorial. See more details on our key points of Insidr here on further information and booking on their site at this link.
Or to see how the phones work first-hand… watch this fun video they produced!
I am traveling thru Paris for only one day comming and going then on to Bordeaux and Avignon for a total of 2 weeks, May 13-26
I need a phone to keep in touch back home….Will this phone work for calls back to the U.S.
Hi Cheryl! Yes, it’ll work outside of Paris, all the advice and tips are more focused on Paris, but it should be fine for internet and through the internet you can make calls. Feel free to contact them directly at this email to see about further info on using the phones outside of Paris firstname.lastname@example.org – Have a great trip!!
Can I use a phone if we Arrive Paris and depart Nice.
I beleive so Sherri as they are expanding their service, you can email there to check here: email@example.com
Is the Insidr phone still available? I am having trouble with that website.
Thanks so much!
Hi Vicki! Thanks for your interest! Sorry to hear you were having trouble with their site, I think they are actually in the process of changing servers so that might be why. They are definitely still available and can even be used around Europe now! You can try again here: https://bit.ly/2DRX54q or email them directly here: firstname.lastname@example.org Hope you can reach them 🙂
Thank you so much! I am so excited about my upcoming visit!
Happy to help out! Have a wonderful time!!!