walk sprint from your arrival gate to customs is no fun. As a traveler you usually have no idea how long the customs line is going to be, and you could end up being stuck waiting for hours depending on the airport and time of day.
But now there’s an (easily accessible) solution. Meet Solve, the startup that finds you a concierge to meet you at your arrival gate and escort you through the airport, through customs and to your waiting car.
Part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2017 class, Solve will also help with airport arrival service, and connection transfers.
The reason I said Solve provides an easily accessible solution is because the infrastructure to supply these VIP escorts is already in place – Solve is just making it easier for the average traveler to take advantage of. Over 500 airports around the world already have agreements with companies that provide these escort services – but the industry is fragmented and very behind on technology. It’s hard to make reservations and get pricing information, and some providers still use fax machines to run their business.
So Solve has aggravated these services into one site with transparent pricing and easy booking.
Because there are hundreds of operators all running their own escort services, pricing varies. You can get a VIP escort from your car to your gate for $140 in Cape Town, South Africa but would need to pay $740 for the same service in Moscow. But generally, you can expect to pay about $300 for an escort for two people in most airports, including major U.S ones like SFO and JFK. You can type in any airport here to get specific pricing for that location.
Different operators also mean different levels of service – while many airports have a fast track lane for escorted VIPs at customs, there’s a chance the airport you’re at may not have such an arrangement. Also with over 500 locations operated by different companies there will obviously be different levels of service provided depending on how frequently that airport handles VIP transfers. That being said, Solve does guarantee each transfer will meet the passenger at the gate or curbside and “expedite the security, immigration, and customs processes”.
While the startup originally discussed putting employees in airports and creating these services themselves, they instead decided to focus on building products that make the suppliers more efficient. Some future ideas include an Uber-style app that shows you your concierge’s picture and name and provides real-time tracking and status updates, or a bio on the customer that the concierge has before they meet in the airport.
At best, Solve could save you hours of travel time for a pretty reasonable amount of money, at least compared to what most of us would expect services like this to cost. At worst, you’ll get to feel like a baller for a few minutes and get some extra help at the airport, which is never a bad thing.