I’ve been away for a few days over the school holidays, enjoying some of Rotorua’s tourist attractions with the family. One thing that struck me was the missed tourism opportunity by not offering free WiFi to visitors at these venues. It seems like a no brainer – free, fast internet access would increase the number of real-time photos, posts, checkins etc about their venue or attraction on social platforms. Our family rode on the gondola, screamed on the luge, got soaked on the log flume ride, watched erupting geysers and splashed around in hot pools all over the country. And everywhere there were hordes of overseas tourists and NZ locals – all of them clutching cameras, video gear, smartphones and even iPads that they used to capture every moment, but how many of them uploaded them right there?
I took loads of photos myself, but saved them for sharing later when I got back to the hotel so not to chew through my 3G data. When you are travelling, internet access can become very expensive as there is less access to WiFi than you may have when you are at home or work. Ironically you probably use it more because you are checking directions on Google Maps, researching accommodation or transport options, reading reviews about cafes or finding out info about the local attractions. Your phone battery runs down faster as you are on 3G for longer than usual, and you may not have easy access to a charger, so power and internet access become two of your essential items when travelling.
Because I waited until the end of the day, I had accumulated other images that I also wanted to post so I edited down the number that I may have shared if I was dong it real-time. By providing free WiFi, tourist attractions would have an easy and simple way of encouraging an increase in the amount of social chatter and sharing. And anywhere that there are queues, there are people huddled over their phones – and in our short trip we encountered our fair share of queues. It would also differentiate the venue and make them a more attractive choice in a city where there is an overload of options for visitors.
Taking photos of yourself on the luge isn’t just for overseas tourists – it’s what everyone does now. Enabling access to the internet isn’t a marketing ploy – it’s just good business sense and should be part of our hospitality and tourism fabric.