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Using your mobile phone while being on holiday can be an issue, especially as it might result in quite a high bill after the holiday is over. When on holiday, many consumers using their mobile phone to check emails or to navigate around a city might not be aware of the fact that this really does come at a price. Last year, the European Commission did announce to they are looking into roaming costs and were aiming to make sure that consumers could use their mobile phones all around Europe without any further costs. Interestingly, a recent article by eMarketer actually looked at UK travellers’ phone usage on holiday and how roaming charges are impacting on UK travellers’ behaviour when being abroad and their awareness of the roaming costs (eMarketer 2014).

PHONE USAGE WHEN ABROAD

UK consumers are using their mobile phones for a variety of activities and the UK is one of the countries that is fairly similar to the very advanced Scandinavian countries with regards to mobile phone penetration and usage. Interestingly, many UK consumers are actually switching off their mobile phones when being abroad. 37% of UK travellers switch their mobile phones off and don't use it while on holiday. Another 36% of UK travellers disable data roaming capabilities of their Smartphone and another 11% actually connect to the internet using public or private wifi access with their mobile phone when being abroad. Interestingly, only 8% of UK consumers purchase or use a SIM from a specific EU country when travelling there and an even lower 7% activate a special data roaming plan for their holiday, probably also due to the fact that these plans are very often quite pricy and still limit the amount of use allowed on a daily basis.

IMPLICATIONS

This means that many UK travellers, actually the majority of them are relying on free internet connections to stay connected as roaming costs are out of the question for many. This means that for many tourism destinations and businesses, the free provision of wifi is expected to be included for example in accommodation prices and UK travellers will make use of free wifi in hotels, restaurants and coffee shops when being abroad as a way to search and access information as well as communicate and stay in touch with family and friends back home.

For the wider tourism industry, the UK traveller behaviour of not roaming or using the mobile phone when being abroad means that apps being developed are not downloaded and used unless they also enable users to use the content while being offline. Also for restaurants, this has a negative effect, as normally UK consumers use their mobile phone to research good places to eat also based on their current location. Due to them not using their phone on holiday, this also makes it quite difficult to find restaurants and also attractions and places of interest. Consequently, in destination businesses might miss out on potential business and the experience a consumer has in the destination is also different, as decisions are based on information gathered from books or even from hotel staff at reception or tourism information. A connected experience is however, much richer, as relevant information can be obtained there and then and UK travellers can simply research relevant restaurants etc. while being in the destination.

LEADING SMARTPHONE ACTIVITIES

Percentages showing figures for domestic versus abroad

  • Taking photos: 87% vs. 75%
  • Calling or texting home: 84% vs. 66%
  • Using maps to navigate and find the way: 67% vs. 37%
  • Sharing and staying in touch: 61% vs. 37%
  • Finding restaurants: 60% vs. 29%

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