Travel Tips for Event Planners: Watch Out for Roaming Charges

By Anne Thornley-Brown for Cvent

Like many event planners, I travel a lot. I always leave my mobile phone at home. You see, during my 6-1/2 years working for a cellular phone company, I had a close-up view of how easy it is for customers to run up mobile phone bills and end up in collections. While I normally cover what’s in the news on Monday, a story sparked my attention last night, where business travelers are returning home with unexpected surprises like “monster bills,” amounting to thousands of dollars. I decided to dig deeper, and discovered that this is going on all over the world.

This issue is sparking the interests of elected officials. Australia is exploring legislation to compel mobile service providers to disclose detailed information about roaming charges. In Canada, an MPP recently raised the issue of high roaming fees before the Ontario Legislative Assembly:

Roaming fees are one of the most vague and unclear areas in terms of cell phone usage. People are completely unaware that simply crossing an imaginary line results in the doubling, tripling or quadrupling of their actual fees, and there is no reminder. 

What are the implications for event planners, as well as hospitality industry professionals, who are increasingly dependent on their iPads to present venues?

  • Contact your service provider to explore your options. Pre-paid and affordable talk, text and data plans or roaming packages are available.
  • Understand that, when you are away from your home service area, you will incur roaming charges whenever you browse the Internet, view a YouTube or Netflix video, plug into social media, send a text message, download photos or make a phone call.
  • Switch your device to “Airplane” mode to turn off wireless devices but still pick up free Wi-Fi.
  • When you get to your destination, turn on Wi-Fi while “Airplane” mode is still on.
  • On your Smartphone, go to “Settings , click on “General,” scroll to “Cellular” and turn off the data roaming switch.
  • On your tablet, go to Settings, select “Cellular Data” turn the Data Roaming switch off.
  • Purchase a local SIM card for your Smartphone to use a local network and access local rates.
  • Wait until you return home to forward videos, photos and emails.

These few simple steps can help you avoid a whopping bill for mobile services when you return from your trip.