Monday, April 16, 2012

How I expect to be able to use technology when planning a holiday

A friend of mine, James Hacon, has been asked to give a presentation, at a travel and tourism Summit in Greece, about what a modern traveller expects and how they will use technology in their packaged holiday. My initial thought was...lucky can I get a gig like that!!?! But once I got over my acute case of envy and teeth-gnashing, I got to thinking about what technology I have expected and have used as I have been planning my two trips to Europe and the USA this year.

I was going to make a list of all the things I expect, but it pretty much boiled down to the same thing....I expect to be able to interact with the am interested in. I expect to be able to find full information about a product, and almost instant (or at least, within 24 hours) replies and responses from a tourist company or hotel.

A static website is so-so, as long is there is information about how I can make contact.

Email is just fine. 

Telephone contact only is not acceptable - I don't want to incur international toll fees. Having said that, it is reassuring to be able to speak to a real person, if you need to.

Facebook and/or Twitter is excellent but only if they are monitored, and I get an answer within 24 hours.  An unattended Facebook or Twitter account is more annoying than no online presence at all.

No website or online communication is unforgivable!

I'll give you an example.

I am going to Salisbury, England this year. I used the official tourist information website to get an idea of the accommodation available, but ended up making a phone call to clarify particular information. This was especially annoying because it cost me money, and the woman on the end sounded like she was a zombie and was no use at me a very poor impression of the service that the Salisbury Tourist Information provides.

I booked our hotel through the hotel's website and email. But I am getting a sense that the hotel is a tad old fashioned because the photos show lots of 1980s Laura Ashley lookalike wall paper...and they do not have a Facebook page! But I am not complaining...the response to my emails was very quick and polite. Before I booked the hotel, I checked out the ratings and feedback on Expedia and Trip Adviser, which I took very seriously - they made a definite impact on my choice.

I thought about transport around Salisbury and looked to see how I could hire a bike. There is a bike hire shop, but absolutely not web site or Facebook page....which is an instant "fail" in my book.

Another thought I had was going on a ghost tour (this has become a bit of a family tradition). I managed to find a very amateur looking website which gave me enough information to know there is a such an event, and there is an email address. But apart from that, I am no wiser. This is in contrast to the Dunedin (New Zealand) Hell Raiser Ghost Tours, who make excellent use of their Facebook page to engage people, give out information about their product and make books.

I only have so much time and money to spend when I am on holiday. If you are a hotel, service or product, you will have first dibs to my credit card if you make it as easy as possible for me to find you, inform me fully about your product/service, and engage me on a personal level...before I even get to my destination.

How do you use technology these days, when you go to plan and book a holiday?

Image: 'Circle of stone'


David Callaghan said...

Hi Sara!

What about using the technology whilst you are there? I always check to see if internet access is available – both to monitor my work emails (that I sometimes choose to ignore – but that’s my choice when on holiday – i.e., I like to be able to have the choice!?). If I want to travel ‘lite’ I’d be looking at places near internet caf├ęs etc. When away I’m quite often looking for a hotspot to check mail, find interesting places to go, download maps etc.

An ideal holiday for me would be to find a campsite in France nearish the ferry ports (i.e., info from TripAdvisor, etc. ), book it for a couple of days and then use Internet access whilst there to find the next camp site for a few days, etc …

In the UK I can do this using my mobile phone as a mobile hotspot, but I’m reluctant to do this in France because of roaming charges.

Kindest regards, David

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi David, yes...what I use on holiday would have been my next post...if I had time to write it :) If I am having a beach holiday, all I want to be able to do is go to an occasional internet cafe to update my Facebook. But on a working holiday, I take my lap top and buy a dongle, if I cannot access wi fi. I am going to have to buy one when I get to the UK...are they expensive?