In October 2012, digital communications company EE started offering 4G mobile services in the UK. This summer, Vodafone and O2 will also introduce 4G services in the UK, leading to a much more competitive market. For consumers in the UK, 4G is great as they are a lot more connected than before. In May, EE estimated that half a million consumers in the UK were using their 4G services and its popularity is further increasing. By the end of 2013, there are 4.8 million 4G LTE Mobile connections estimated increasing to over 24 million by 2016. So there is a large potential and growth predicted (eMarketer).
Earlier this year, research reports emphasised the importance of travellers being connected at all times. This is particularly important with the growing importance of digital in tourism. Travellers that are connected 24/7 can share unique experiences during a holiday in an instant, providing real-time coverage from a destination. This in turn means that tourism organizations and destinations have travellers sharing content with them and are engaging in real time, providing unique opportunities for destinations to start an active dialogue with travellers and build more personal, real time relationships. Faster and better Internet connections in the UK through 4G services, could already make this the case for their tourism industry – the potential is huge!
Mobile Data and Traffic
Many consumers are not only using a Smartphone, but also tablets when going on a holiday. 4G Mobile broadband is therefore very relevant and traffic will further increase. Some destinations are reacting to the need for travellers to stay connected by offering free wifi. Taiwan is one example of a national tourist board providing their tourists with free wifi. In Rotterdam, in the center, this is also the case, so travellers can access the Internet and can discover the city connected.
In the future, it is certainly important to overcome the issue of disconnected travellers as content being shared on social media channels for example is a very powerful marketing tool for a destination or tourism organisation. Destinations should therefore see about opportunities how travellers can stay connected and share their experiences when in the destination. For many travellers, wifi is an essential part of their holiday and is seen as a given!
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