Forget minibars. Forget spa centres, or pillow menus. What really counts for me to fully enjoy my holiday, and give a good recommendation to the hotel I stay at is very simple – and even better for hoteliers, free.
Let me spell it out for you: W-I-F-I. Not just any wifi though, it should be free and available in my room, as opposed to a dark, uncomfortable corner of the lobby. Or in the case of my recent holiday in the Algarve (Portugal), a corner of the pool bar, at a ridiculously expensive rate and surrounded by screaming children.
The implications of this are greater than one might think. On this particular girl’s trip, evening drinks took place in complete silence. Silence except that is for the ping of instant messages, Facebook notifications or the occasional mutter of “What was the wifi password again”? The decision of where to eat or drink was, needless to say, conditioned by one question: Do you have free wifi in this establishment?
Half the fun of a holiday experience is relaying just how fun/beautiful/interesting it is to friends and family in real time, the immediacy of sharing and commenting. But it’s not just the social factor that wifi is so important for. On this holiday in the Algarve, we also used our smartphones to look for recommended beaches, maps of how to get there, suggestions of places to eat… in fact, our hotel booking was also done online, after reviewing other guests’ opinions.
Smartphone sales worldwide are up 46.5% from the second quarter of 2012 (Gartner). According to Nielsen, More than three out of five (61%) mobile subscribers in the U.S. owned a smartphone during the most recent three-month period (March-May 2013), up more than 10 percent since smartphones became the mobile majority in early 2012.
But what does it mean for the travel industry? In “The always connected traveller”, a research report by Amadeus looking at how mobile functionality will be used by airlines; one of the key findings was that travellers are increasingly expecting and adopting mobile services including travel apps across their entire journey: from improving the airport experience to checking in for their flight.
In another recent report, Shaping the future of travel in Australia, some interesting figures are revealed: over 40% of Australians own a smartphone and 33% use them to book travel online. Similarly, research focusing on Asia Pacific found a strong growth in social media usage during travel amongst both business and leisure travellers.
It’s clear that social media, travel apps and internet usage are becoming a key component along all the steps in the travel chain. Just remember to check your hotel’s wifi availability next time you plan a holiday.