The past few months have had a huge impact on the Yorkshire tourism industry which brings £9billion to the local economy each year and employs 225,000.
Like all businesses, visitor attractions have become dependent on having a reliable mobile connection and/or broadband to run their business and keep in touch with customers. But a lack of digital connectivity in certain areas of rural North Yorkshire has put some at a significant disadvantage to their urban neighbours.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, there is now a clear understanding of the need for robust rural connectivity across the county, which will result in a more sustainable and safer tourism industry for North Yorkshire.
But, how can mobile connectivity help make North Yorkshire’s attraction more sustainable?
Mobile connectivity is the ability to connect mobile devices, such as a phone or tablet, to a network.
In the last few years, visitors have grown to expect reliable mobile coverage and, more recently, digital offerings be available on a day out. When it is not, it can reflect badly on the destination.
Yet, connectivity can offer so much more than visitors being able to share experiences on social media or keep in touch with friends and family.
In the short term, connectivity can support the reopening of areas which need tourism to survive. It can provide solutions that help customer flow which will allow attractions to observe the ‘We’re Good to Go’ COVID-19 business standard and support the ‘Know Before You Go’ industry recommendation for visitors.
But mobile connectivity can also drive a business’s long term strategy.
COVID-19 has provided many the opportunity to rethink and rejuvenate plans for the future and mobile connectivity can support this through providing actionable data which businesses can use to enhance visitor experiences. Real-time data provides businesses with immediate access to critical visitor information and behaviours, empowering them with the ability to make informed decisions.
Real time data – which fast and reliable mobile connectivity can deliver – offers the chance to collect better market and customer intelligence. This means there can be improvements to internal operations which helps develop a better product.
A better visitor experience – people are, rightly, still wary of COVID-19 and are likely to be for some time, therefore, visitors will be reticent to take part in busy guided tours. Being able to offer self-guided tours and multimedia based storytelling including augmented reality provides solutions for visitors to explore attractions safely, at their own pace and also enhances their experience.
Finally, having an improved digital profile including the opportunity to share content on social media, and communicate directly with attractions staff, will result in significantly improved visitor satisfaction, and offers a continued relationship once customers leave. Plus, if there are any future disruptions to business, a digital profile can help safeguard the attraction by enabling an unbroken connection to loyal supporters and potential new.
How can MANY help?
Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trials Programme working in areas which currently have no mobile connectivity to assess the needs of these communities. In phases, a 4G and 5G network will be built to explore how this connectivity can improve lives via supporting the tourism and wider community. This type of activity will help influence government policy on rural connectivity.
Our tourism theme – led by Flo-culture – want to deliver 4G connectivity and demonstrate the benefits of 4G enabled visitor engagement tools. To ensure that connectivity has the ability to offer sustainability for businesses, it will also run temporary trials testing the potential value of 5G enabled visitor engagement tools.
By extending mobile coverage to rural areas which are currently disadvantaged through a lack of connectivity, we can enhance the future of rural areas such as North Yorkshire as a major UK tourist destination.
If you are interested in finding out more about how mobile connectivity can support your business or want to talk to us about your experiences about how a lack of mobile coverage has impacted, you contact us or keep in touch by subscribing to our newsletter.