Digital is becoming ever more integrated in everyone’s lives. More people own smartphones, download apps and view websites on mobile devices than ever before. This trend is only set to increase over time, however there is one aspect of our lives where our usual digital trends fall by the wayside – when we travel abroad. This is set to change and the days of turning off our data connection abroad will soon be gone.
The European Commission is proposing to scrap mobile phone roaming charges across Europe. Under the plans, companies will be banned from charging for incoming calls from July 2014 and all other roaming charges would be scrapped by 2016.
Whether at home or abroad, data usage is something that most smartphone users will be aware of. Within 3 years mobile internet traffic should overtake desktop; and with this being the case, businesses have a new issue to deal with. Mobile optimisation of websites, app development and providing content that isn’t too data heavy.
Apps which use a lot of data have never really taken off, especially in the tourism sector due to the data charges that are incurred abroad.
With the new proposals that are being put in place across Europe in the coming years, we are going to see the true potential of mobile websites and apps. We can expect to see a lot more augmented reality, with the aggressive roll out of 4G internet speeds, unlimited internet plans and new freedom for travelling data plans.
With innovations like Google Glass (www.google.com/glass), going on holidays and short breaks will never be the same again. If you have the Google spectacles on, everywhere you go will be like having a tour guide along with you. The technology used for Google Glass enables audio, video and text to be overlaid on the Glass. Imagine yourself walking around the Natural History Museum and being informed about any artefact you look at, or being directed to your hotel on a map overlay as you walk through the streets of your holiday destination.
This type of invention could change tourism from how we research to how we travel, and offers developers such a wide scope to develop lots of rich and immersive features around the holidays and tourism industries.
The freedom of more mobile data abroad also enables travellers to share their experiences in real time so we’ll expect to see an increase in photography and video led websites for destination countries to showcase what they have to offer, sights to see, places to stay and activities to do – see MySwitzerland.com, spain.info and discovernorthernireland.com as examples.
These websites are no longer just catered to users before they travel to these countries, but also to tourists who are looking at where to go and what to do on their smartphones and tablets whilst they are there.
The opportunity to develop fully image and video rich content for websites and apps with their intention of use ‘at destination’ is just on the horizon.
When tied in with the great use of augmented reality and location specific services the use of such applications and will be mesmerising and immersive experiences. Not just adding an interesting new dimension to travel and tourism but a hugely exciting opportunity for those with the foresight and bravery to take off first.