By Isabel Montesdeoca, senior vice-president and general manager of Concur
Picture the scene. You land in a European airport, navigate security; drag your luggage through the terminal building to the exit. Outside, a taxi queue is snaked along the pavement. A cab pulls up, and you jump in. In your best French/German/Dutch/Spanglish you try to pronounce the address of the offices you’re visiting.
After a few bemused shrugs, you pull your phone out of your pocket and fire up Google Maps. After a few desperate seconds refreshing the page you realise your mistake. Your data roaming is switched off. Cue desperate (expensive) phone calls back the office.
This is one scenario of hundreds that play out every day. In an attempt to try and make do without the mobile internet services we’ve all come to rely on, travellers – business or leisure – spend a week effectively operating with one arm tied behind their back.
Business travellers sacrifice the visibility and instant access to communication and information that can make a trip so quick and easy, all because exorbitant roaming fees force them to do so. It’s bemusing that we can pop over to Paris for an afternoon meeting or weekend dinner, but not check email or Twitter without a hefty surcharge.
That is, until now.
From July 1, EU roaming charges will drop by 50% as part of the European Union’s attempts to phase them out altogether. Alongside welcome reductions of 21% and 25% in calls and SMS messages respectively, the cost of data will fall by a staggering 55%.
This isn’t just a crucial step towards allowing business travellers to use smartphones more while out of the office; this is a seminal moment in helping those out on the road be fundamentally more productive.
The reduction of roaming fees means that business travellers can finally take advantage of all the digital amenities out there designed to make their life easier.
They can now use apps to manage their itineraries, check real-time flight information and submit expense claims without wasting a second. This also unlocks a whole world of potential for the travel tech industry.
This reduction in charges is an open invitation for us to create original, innovative and pioneering technologies that will make European business travel easier, less stressful and much more productive.