Hopefully that got your attention.
The truth is, I love my iphone.
It was love at first sight – a multi-purpose device that kept me connected, soothed my spirits with its music, entertained, educated me during long flights with its videos, brought me up to date with the activities and musings of my Facebook friends while standing in front of the baggage carousel, prevented me from getting lost, told me how much to tip and did the currency conversion, even taught me some useful Mandarin phrases. But the real appeal was and is its design. It’s so pleasing on the eye and functional….wistful sigh….
So why my headline – well it works fine at home but when I need it – i.e. when I am roaming around the world – it’s too expensive to use. I look longingly at the 20 downloaded applications but can’t use them
After one week in Vancouver, I received a text from my friendly but monopolistic UK service provider informing me that because of over use, they were restricting my service. They gave me a number to call but when I tried it, I was informed that the number was inaccessible from outside the UK! So much for being in touch while mobile….Then, when I got home, I discovered a bill of £799.00. So much for falling in love…..
So I can’t fault Apple for that – or can I? In the UK they initially did an exclusive deal with O2 who have made a mint out of people like me….Let’s hope Vodaphone - who will now compete with O2 - can give them a run for their money but, as I am tied into a contract, I am not yet free to move.
Now I have just spent three weeks on the road (three countries – Finland, Australia and New Zealand) and, as you can expect, turned data roaming OFF! So much for the benefits of 3G. But that makes one utterly dependent on wifi availability and nothing prepared me for the challenges of traveling down under where wifi seems to be considered an alien from outer space. Broadband is not a commodity down here – it’s treated as a scarce jewel. Few hotels offer it and the Ethernet connection in the room, which ties you to a desk and computer, is expensive, IF you can get it. Even if there is a wifi connection in the lobby, you have to sign on in your room first so that renders access by iphone impossible.
Here in sunny Auckland the sky may be blue but I can't access the cloud while I'm out enjoying this delightful city. So much for software as a service and the rise of cloud computing - if you want to be part of that revolution that is supposed to be the death of distance, you'll have to huddle together in cities with high speed broadband.
Now it’s not my nature to blame. The problem is that none of the providers in this connecting ecosystem seem to acknowledge that they are in the connecting business nor realize their inter-dependence, nor the impact on customers. Apple sells its phones, mobile providers get their monthly pound of flesh, and hotels source an income to replace their dwindling mini bar sales.
Douglas Wright has written an interesting piece called Destinations and Online Marketing Disconnect. A good article, but IMHO the problem goes deeper. Tourism destinations are in the connecting business big time but many haven’t realized that to be really supportive of their customers they are the ones who should be putting pressure on the telecoms industry and their own members to ensure blanket free coverage of wifi in all major connecting places; airports, hotel rooms and lobbies, cafes, public spaces and meeting rooms etc etc.**** Or be really imaginative and offer a local SIM card that provides really useful visitor information, acts as a privilege pass and accesses special offers. I’d happily pay for that on arrival as the time saved from endlessly logging in and out of multiple systems, remembering arcane passwords, or paying for wifi in one hourly increments might make it a good investment…..
If, as Charlene Li suggests in Groundswell, as many as 84% of customers rely on the opinions of people they know before making a major purchase, then surely the objective must be a). ensure existing visitors want to rave about their experience and b). make it easy for them to do so while their positive feelings are fresh? In short, if visitors are our partners on whom we depend upon to rave and refer and share their experiences, isn’t it time we made it easy for them to do so?
**** Postscript - the good news is that New Zealand's new government is rectifying this situation as quickly as it can with a mammoth investment in broadband to match the stellar attractions and hospitality that Kiwis are famous for!