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Pitchup.com sees 91% increase in rural wifi access complaints

Jun 28 2013 Posted by Samantha Marsh

  • Department of Culture, Media and Sport press release issued yesterday admits rural broadband deadline has slipped
  • 68m* bed nights at camping or caravan sites versus 47m at hotels but significantly less internet access
  • Internet is ubiquitous and expected by UK customers yet UK connection speeds are slower than 11 other European countries including Czech Republic and Romania**
  • Hotels.com report says wifi number one reason to book

Following yesterday’s news that the government will push back rural broadband targets for the second time and appears to be scaling back its 2010 investment commitment by £50m, leading outdoor accommodation provider, Pitchup.com, reports a 91%*** increase in complaints about sites with limited internet access.

Of the 5,000 listings on Pitchup.com, only 17% offer wifi and only 8% of all sites offer free internet access. This compares to 84% of hotels in Turkey, 56% in Spain and 55% in Greece that offer wifi to their guests at no cost.

Managing Director of the outdoor accommodation site, Dan Yates, has long championed effective broadband provision at camping sites and holiday parks believing its absence is damaging for more remote businesses trying to entice customers. 

Yates said: "Getting away from it all no longer means being totally cut off as many of our customers still expect to be able to surf the net while camping, and not only to update their social networks. Wifi allows outdoor holidaymakers to keep a close eye on weather forecasts, check online map services and even plan their next pitch while on the road. Remote areas can suffer a lack of wifi availability and this can deter holidaymakers."

Given Brits spend significantly more holiday bed nights at camping or caravan parks (68m) versus hotels* (47m) annually Yates finds it surprising that rural sites still remain so under serviced. 

Why is wifi important?

  • Free wifi is now an accepted part of urban life – and urban travellers question why it is not available even in more remote and rural areas
  • 34% of Hotels.com customers say wifi is number one choice in accommodation

Yates said: "Some of our customers need to work at some point during their holiday and limited internet access can be a make or break decision when they choose holiday accommodation. Wifi encourages last minute bookings, enables flexible workers to combine work and leisure, and is especially helpful during the shoulder season for driving bookings. In addition, even for those who are lucky enough not to have to work while on holiday, parents often rely on the internet as an essential tool for keeping their children entertained. Lack of internet access can deter families."

What is the solution?

Yates believes the solution is for government to work with technology providers and communities, allocating a larger share of its National Infrastructure Plan to broadband commensurate with the internet's importance to the British economy. More funding is needed to avoid a third deadline to enhance internet in rural regions being missed, and to put in place access speeds that suit the modern internet.

Glenn Peacey of Hampshire County Council said: "Rural broadband is a key part of ensuring the long term economic and social viability of rural communities. Access to the internet enables rural communities to compete on an equal footing with urban centres, enabling smarter/flexible working from home which reduces the tendency towards dormitory villages, increases spending in local shops and pubs and reduces CO2 emissions and road congestion.  

"High speed broadband also has a significant impact on social sustainability, not only does it enable residents to access leisure and media services which they would otherwise be excluded from or have to travel to consume, broadband also facilitates access to online education and learning resources which are so vital to today's school and university students."

* GB domestic holiday bed nights, source: 2011 GBTS, VisitEngland

** Average measured connection speed from Akamai "State of the Internet" report released today

*** Based on reviews submitted in the year to 25th June 2013 vs 2012

ends

Media information:

Cass Helstrip or Samantha Marsh at White Tiger PR

Cass.helstrip@whitetigerpr.com 07968 255464

Samantha.marsh@whitetigerpr.com 07711 265666

Notes to editors

Founded in 2009 by former lastminute.com man, Dan Yates, multi-award winning Pitchup.com is a free guide to all types of camping and caravanning in the UKIreland and France.  The site provides users with a simple platform in which they can search and book a camping or caravanning holiday with total ease.  The customer experience from landing on the home page through to booking a holiday can be completed in as little as four pages.  The site also goes beyond traditional searches by allowing users to search for a site based on more than 80 criteria, such as adults only and campfires allowed, and view nearby events, Good Pub Guide pubs and VisitBritain attractions.  Users can also search on the offers page to find the best deals available.  Pitchup.com features over 5,000 camping and caravanning sites/parks throughout UK & Ireland with France recently added into the equation.  It enables users to search for all types of parks and sites from the major brands right through to one off campsites which may not have previously had a web presence.