Sun, sea, sand and smartphones

We used to go on holiday to “switch off” completely – but these days it seems we’re more addicted to switching on.

A recent survey by networking company Brocade reveals that 95 percent of holidaymakers jet off with at least one internet-type devide in their luggage, while half of travellers want to, or must be, online with daily access to news and communications regardless of their location.

We’re taking smartphones and iPads on holiday along with the sarongs, paperbacks and suncream, it seems, and results of a different survey recently found that postcards have gone the way of the dinosaur as most under-55s share their holiday pics on Twitter or Facebook.

Half of those surveyed by Brocade said they had to check email at least once a day during their hols, while more than 40 percent actively seek destinations that offer always-on connectivity, from anywhere at anytime. A quarter of these sun-seekers said they checked email while on the beach and four percent said they’d been logging on while in the jungle.

Unlike office workers who can automate a holiday email and delegate someone else to handle enquiries while they jet off to a backdrop of blue skies and palm trees, self-employed business owners have to keep in touch with clients more or less 24/7, which means responding to emails in between swims.

"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."

Interestingly, internet penetration in Europe is way above the international average – 67 percent versus 27 percent, and the number of users has grown almost 260 percent since 2000. Apparently smartphone sales more than doubled year-over-year in the first three months of 2011 and it won’t be long before video and TV streaming overtake Web and Internet traffic.

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.

The smartphone was by far the device of choice, with 84 percent saying they used it over a laptop or tablet technology such as an iPad.

See also Weather is here, wish you were beautiful: here

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