By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Any company planning an overseas trip for a team of employees faces a herculean challenge, but planning that same trip during one of the world’s biggest sporting events, in a city not known to be easy to get around, is a daunting feat. Now, a pair of British expatriates have developed the Rio Companion app to help companies expertly navigate the city of Rio de Janeiro during the upcoming 2016 Olympics.
The Rio Companion app was the brainchild of journalist Doug Gray, who has lived in Rio since 2007 (although is presently back in England). He developed the app and business model with his partner Luke Norman.
As a white-label app for mobile devices, companies of all different sizes can use the tool to help their team get around the city conveniently. It offers comprehensive food and service recommendations, GPS maps, and Olympic event locations, a Portuguese phrasebook, and transportation and security advice from an experienced regional security consultant.
Gray gained a unique perspective of Rio from covering the city for several leading media outlets, such as The Rio Times, TimeOut Rio, National Geographic and the BBC. In fact, it was his experience working with the BBC’s team covering the 2014 World Cup that gave him the idea to create the app. The experience, Gray shared, “highlighted how hard it was for the managers of all these presenters and commentators to keep tabs on their team.”
So, he set out to create a fully customizable and bespoke app for “Olympic teams and federations, companies or broadcasters” that showcased “the best of the city into a smartphone app with a broad coverage featuring everything from tourist attractions to top-end restaurants to simple botecos.” Adding, “If someone is watching the beach volleyball on Copacabana Beach and wanted to find the nearest sushi restaurant, for example, it couldn’t be easier.”
Although Rio is a city that changes rapidly, the Rio Companion team is working hard to ensure that users of the app will have the most up-to-date information leading right up to the start of the Games. “With so many new spots opening ahead of the Games, keeping on top of the most essential ones to include isn’t easy, but there will be a full content update in June so users get the very latest information.”
About 500,000 visitors are expected to visit Rio for the 2016 Olympics, the first in South America, which will be held from August 5th to August 21st. Businesses interested in purchasing the app for their teams can review the video demonstration on their web site as well as contact the sales team.