Do you have Wi-Fi?” is probably the most commonly asked question by tourists and business travelers when they visit a place. Whether it’s in hotels, restaurants, spas, or any other establishment they spend time in, guests want to stay connected and to be constantly entertained. In cities and places where tourists flock, governments and enterprises have had to scramble to fulfill this demand for free internet access.
Gone are the days of navigating unfamiliar places using well-creased paper maps, looking for the best tourist spots with the help of paperback guide books, and waiting to go home before being able to share travel photos and experiences to friends and family. Tourists today want the comfort and convenience of being connected to the web wherever they go. Itineraries are planned with help of Google, and the risk of getting lost is almost eliminated through the availability of interactive maps that accurately tell people exactly where they are. And thanks to social media, travelers are able to post photos, videos, and other updates online, reaching even people they hardly ever see.
Wireless connectivity can serve as part of side attraction to tourist. In fact, it is a huge tourism boost for visitors.
Catering to these needs is serious business. In a survey by hotels.com, it was found that 49% of business travelers and 25% of leisure travelers considered Wi-Fi as a deciding factor when choosing their hotels. In another study by the Social Media & Mobile Strategies in Travel forum, it was revealed that almost 85% of international travelers bring internet-enabled gadgets with them when they go abroad.
It is therefore imperative that tourism-dependent areas and businesses provide uninterrupted and reliable internet access for their guests. Deploying outdoor wireless solutions is a great way to provide connectivity for visiting tourists, but selecting key locations is essential for optimizing this tourist-friendly feature. Here are some of the places where Wi-Fi implementation can serve as a value-added element of the tourism infrastructure.
Cafes and restaurants would benefit well from free outdoor Wi-Fi access. Customers tend to linger and order more food than intended when distracted by their gadgets. Although some may take advantage of the service by just the cheapest drink off the menu which they proceed to sip slowly, overall, it’s a win-win for both customers and business owners. Satisfied customers tend to leave good online reviews and recommendations for businesses offering free Wi-Fi, driving interest and encouraging potential customers to visit these establishments in the future.
In cities like Zurich, Hong Kong, Seoul, Munich, and Singapore, where the train networks are a model of efficiency, and the airports seem more like luxury malls more than a place for waiting passengers, internet access is a must. Navigating the web of stations and endless boarding gates is a breeze when you have an online app you could download and install in your mobile gadget.
Museums, historic sites, and other landmarks—places where visitors tend to descend by the hundreds—would feel less like tourist traps when there’s free Wi-Fi to entertain people while waiting in line for their turn to experience the sites. Furthermore, there are few things more satisfying to most tourists than to document such special moments and share them in real time with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Parks and Recreation Facilities
Through the power of the internet, business establishments can promote onsite events and activities to tourists. Targeted ads and other promotional content, for instance, can be strategically placed on their Wi-Fi’s signup page or landing page, or a special mobile app can be designed to serve as an easy guide for visitors. These can be utilized to highlight upcoming local events such as concerts, games, gallery openings, and other attractions. In short, providing internet connectivity can be a great way to engage your guests or audiences without spending a lot of capital on marketing.
Markets and Shopping Centers
Malls, open-air markets, and retail stores are great locations for implementing outdoor Wi-Fi solutions. Local retailers can even take advantage of digital ads promoting their stores. Guests can also use the internet to navigate large markets and be informed of available discounts and promos from individual shops.
Many countries around the world are realizing the importance of providing free internet to tourists – Japan, Australia, Korea, and Italy, just to name a few. Their governments are investing heavily on wireless infrastructure, hoping to boost the tourism economy. With proper planning and strategy, tourists and locals alike will benefit greatly from free access to the internet.
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