More than half of all Europeans take at least one holiday each year, which means some 250 million people are well versed in planning what essential items to squeeze into their luggage. New research from Brocade* (Nasdaq: BRCD) shows that, along with sun cream and swimsuits, 95 percent of European holidaymakers take at least one Internet-enabled device with them and are simply not prepared to "switch off" from e-mail (work or personal), online entertainment or social media sites.
Half of those surveyed plan to access the Internet at least once a day while more than 40 percent actively seek destinations that offer always-on connectivity, from anywhere at anytime, placing a huge burden on service providers and leisure facilities to ensure adequate coverage in even the most remote of locations. For example, a quarter of these sun-seekers reported that they have accessed content from the beach, and, amazingly, four percent have found time to log on in the jungle.
"The findings just go to show that in 2011, we are hugely connected, no matter what we are doing, and we fully expect to be able to get online from anywhere in the world," said John McHugh, vice president and chief marketing officer at Brocade. "With nearly half of the people we spoke to relying on connectivity to stream audio or video files while on holiday to enhance their relaxation time, businesses need to consider what the modern traveller wants. Whether it's a hotel or beach bar, failure to deliver online services could not only damage brand equity but also jeopardize the bottom line."
Internet penetration in Europe far exceeds the global average - 67 percent versus 27 percent - and the number of users has grown almost 260 percent since 2000. Users today demand ubiquitous access to content, from wherever they might be, which has seen use of mobile devices soar in recent years; IDC, for example, states that smartphone sales more than doubled year-over-year in the first three months of 2011, seeing almost 100 million devices sold**. Add to this the fact that video and TV streaming will soon surpass Web and Internet traffic, and it is easy to see how modern consumer habits are changing, even in terms of planning vacations around Internet connectivity.
According to the research, typical holidaymakers take at least one mobile device with them, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone. The majority of respondents rely on these devices to stay in touch with friends and family at home, with 40 percent freely admitting that they cannot be separated from their social media tools.
Surprisingly, nearly a third of respondents use their devices on holiday for work reasons - such as checking e-mails, downloading documents or just being available to customers and co-workers - despite almost 60 percent admitting that it occasionally causes friction with their fellow relaxation seekers.
Other key findings included:
*64 percent of respondents were aged between 25 and 44, indicating that the professional age group is driving the need for always-on connectivity
*Of the respondents, 84 percent relied on smartphones while on holiday, favouring ultra-portable devices over bulkier devices, such as laptops
*Half of those surveyed continued to use their devices (personal or work) abroad just as if they were at home, with more than three quarters regularly downloading personal e-mail and 48 percent accessing work e-mail/documents
*Only seven percent never accessed the Internet while on holiday
McHugh added: "Whether it's from a tablet on the beach or from a smartphone on a boat, our research has highlighted Europeans' thirst for content. How to quench that thirst is a challenge, but the ability to deliver always-on connectivity comes down to a high-performance and ultra-reliable network that has the attributes of the networks deployed inside of data centres.
"Our 'The Data Center Is Here' corporate campaign highlights how modern networks need to extend across physical boundaries and enable a common user experience wherever data is accessed, including the 250 million European holidaymakers who are accessing Internet content on their various devices. Therefore it's important that the leisure industry and service providers ensure they don't miss this opportunity to prosper."
In this type of always-on business environment, the Brocade portfolio of high-performance, scalable, cloud-optimised networking solutions offer service providers and businesses the confidence to meet the demands of the roving vacationer. These solutions deliver on the Brocade One strategy of helping organizations deliver information and applications anywhere at any time. In addition, this strategy is designed to help organizations reduce both complexity and costs while extending data centre assets and services to mobile users around the world.
* Fieldwork was conducted during July 2011, across 500 European holidaymakers