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The rise and rise of the roaming empire: 6 in 10 Vodafone travellers need a mobile phone overseas

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, October 2013–September 2014, n = 3,322 mobile phone users aged 14+ who holidayed overseas in the last 12 months.

Whether to access maps and directions, use travel and accommodation apps, store electronic boarding passes or simply to stay in touch with (and perhaps gloat to) those back home, most Australians who travel internationally now agree that they need a mobile phone overseas.

In the year to September 2014, 53.3% of all Australian mobile phone users who holidayed internationally in the past year (14+) agreed that ‘I need a mobile phone when I travel overseas’, data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

But the rate of mobile phone reliance among these jet-setters varies greatly between providers: 61.2% of Vodafone customers who travelled internationally in the past year agree that they need a mobile phone overseas, compared with 56.8% of travellers with Optus and 50.9% of those with Telstra.

% of overseas travellers by provider who agree:
‘I need a mobile phone when I travel overseas’

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, October 2013–September 2014, n = 3,322 mobile phone users aged 14+ who holidayed overseas in the last 12 months.

Vodafone’s mobile customers are slightly more likely to be planning to take an overseas trip in the next 12 months: 23.8% compared with 21.1% for Optus and 20.6% for Telstra. As with the above recent travellers, intending travellers with Vodafone are also more likely than those with Optus or Telstra to agree they’ll need a mobile phone on the trip.

If these holiday intentions come to fruition in 2015, the most common destinations on the itinerary for travelling Vodafone mobile customers will be mainland Europe (21.8%), England (15.9%), the US (14.7%), New Zealand (14.0%), Singapore (12.2%), Japan (11.9%), the South Pacific (10.5%), Indonesia (9.7%), Thailand (8.9%), and India (6.3%).

Tim Martin, General Manager - Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We’ve all heard (or perhaps experienced) the horror stories about returning from a holiday to find a massive global roaming bill. With over a third of all mobile phone users now saying they need a mobile overseas, service providers will have to find ways to offer simple, cost-effective solutions for customers.

“All three of the Australian network operators now offer international roaming packs, with varying degrees of user-friendliness. Vodafone in particular has capitalised on having a global network to offer roaming at a flat $5 per day, covering nearly all the most popular destinations for Australian travellers, and has promoted this service in recent advertising campaigns.

“Bill shock is a major driver of dissatisfaction—and hence switching—and global roaming is infamous for bill shock. All telco companies need to find ways to ensure they understand the travel habits and intentions of their customers, their attitudes regarding using their mobile phone when travelling, and the best ways to communicate with them.”  

To understand how to reach Australians with different travel and mobile phone attitudes, contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%