Research reveals that business travellers from North America and Europe have been paying over the odds to get themselves online when overseas – to the tune of £855m
While technology may have lessened the need for overseas business trips to a certain extent, entrepreneurs often have no choice but to jump on a plane to scope out new territories or complete a crucial deal. Unfortunately, heading abroad means business owners are left facing one of their biggest bugbears: finding a half-decent internet connection. Suffice to say, the constant hunt for a wifi hotspot can end up being a pretty expensive endeavour – and new research has revealed precisely how much this connectivity conundrum is costing international business travellers in North America and Europe.
According to a study commissioned by iPass, the international wifi provider, and conducted by Rethink Technology Research, business travellers on both sides of the pond are overspending on connectivity charges by at least £855m. iPass based its findings on research from IPK International, the travel research firm, which revealed that business travellers in North America and Europe made 78 million international business trips in 2014. It's estimated that the direct and indirect costs of keeping these travellers online – whether through wifi or mobile roaming – would have been at least £1.42bn. However, iPass claims that giving travellers access to an unlimited global wifi network would deliver the £855m of savings mentioned above.
The research reveals that, of the £855m being wasted, £275m stems from business trips within Europe, a further £243m comes from Europeans travelling outside Europe and £337m from North Americans travelling internationally. And the costs of connectivity tend to vary depending on methods used. For example, a mobile roaming-only approach would cost North Americans £531- £1,141 per month whereas Europeans travelling within Europe would expect to pay between £55 and £273. Meanwhile, the cost for Europeans venturing outside of the continent would be £935 - £1,366.
While free wifi is widely available, the research found that slow connectivity speeds, lengthy registration processes and limited usage periods on unsecured networks resulted in lost productivity for business travellers. According to iPass, this can cost businesses £562 per business traveller each month. Elsewhere, pay-on-demand wifi services, which tend to be faster, more reliable and more secure, are costing travellers from North America and Europe up to £83 a month.
“Failing to have a practical and convenient policy for mobile connectivity can be a costly mistake for businesses," said Gary Griffiths, president and CEO of iPass. "Although there are millions of free and pay-on-demand wifi hotspots, connecting to them often poses multiple annoyances – from having to enter personal and credit card information repeatedly to the threat of exposing sensitive business and personal information on unsecured networks."
Thankfully, with the EU agreeing to scrap mobile roaming charges within two years, browsing the web may not burn quite as big a hole in businesses' pockets in the near future.