Our survey says… consumers are ready for travel eSIMs

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A recent survey conducted by eSIM expert Mobilise has revealed that travellers are sick of their current roaming options, with over 60 per cent of respondents open to purchasing a new-to-market travel eSIM. The survey, which explores consumer attitudes towards and appetite to for eSIM products indicates that travel operators should look at offering eSIM services sooner rather than later in order to get ahead of the curve and carve out their space in the market.


The travel eSIM market certainly looks promising. Research released in August 2023 by Kaleido Intelligence revealed that there will be a 500 per cent increase in retail spending on travel eSIM products and that the industry as a whole will be worth close to $10 billion by 2028. While the market is expected to be there, it’s also important for those looking to launch travel eSIM services to consider current consumer attitudes towards eSIM.


Key findings

To support travel companies looking to benefit from this new revenue opportunity, eSIM expert Mobilise commissioned a survey of 2,000 people across the UK to gain insight into consumer experiences of travelling abroad, how they currently remain connected and their awareness of other connectivity options.


Whether it’s for keeping up with social media, accessing messaging platforms like WhatsApp, streaming video on demand (VOD) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, or connecting to maps, staying connected abroad is more than just a nicety. Mobilise’s survey revealed that over 73 per cent of travellers consider remaining connected abroad on their mobile device, using mobile data, an important part of travelling.


Gen Z and Millennials are significantly more likely to get connected while travelling, and nine in ten travellers currently use mobile data to do so. While these generations do use existing connectivity methods to get connected, four in ten find using data abroad difficult, and have a greater willingness to adopt new technologies like travel eSIM.


Overall, most survey respondents would be interested in purchasing an eSIM package from a travel operator as an ancillary service, with almost two thirds of Gen Z, over half of Millennials and over a third of Gen X expressing an interest in buying data from a travel operator such as an airline or travel booking site.


Despite travel eSIMs relatively new entry into the market, it’s already deemed the second easiest route to keeping connected abroad, with 72 per cent of respondents considering purchasing and activating an eSIM not difficult. This level of ease is comparable with other more established connectivity options like connecting to public Wi-Fi or purchasing data through a mobile operator.


There’s a little more friction on the market when it comes to willingness to purchase an eSIM from a travel operator, with 27 per cent of respondents still unsure about this method of connectivity. But friction isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it’s actually an opportunity for travel operators looking to launch eSIM services to position themselves as market leaders, driving the shift and educating consumers on the benefits of connecting via this method.



We know that eSIM is a rapidly growing technology and that many consumers are already familiar with it through their existing telco experiences. Awareness and adoption are both on the rise, with the latest data from the GSMA revealing that 36 per cent of consumers globally are aware of eSIM, up from 20 per cent in 2020.


For travel operators looking to launch travel eSIMs and take their stake in the 500 per cent increase in retail spending expected over the next five years, it’s essential to get ahead of the curve. Let’s imagine you’re an airline called, say, ‘Ryanfare’. By launching eSIM services through an existing iOS application, ‘Ryanfare’ is able to position its brand as an innovator and first to market in its sector to launch eSIM services without any telecoms expertise in house and without acquiring eSIM entitlement permissions from Apple — a long and arduous process.


Launching eSIM connectivity in this way generates ‘Ryanfare’ an additional annual ancillary revenue of £105 million, offers the airline’s customers a range of eSIM mobile data packages for over 160 countries and is possible to fully implement in as little as three weeks.


To adopt eSIM services in this way, travel operators must have a mobile app through which travellers can purchase their eSIM. If it already has an app in place, it could consider a software development kit from an embedded connectivity provider, which allows them to drop the required application programming interfaces (APIs) into a preexisting mobile application. Mobilise offers its own eSIM SDK to complete this step. Instead of taking 18 months to launch travel eSIMs, the whole process could be completed in as little as two weeks.


The people have clearly spoken — consumers are ready and keen to adopt new technologies and are open to receiving connectivity services from non-telco channels. But the time to act is now to ensure a successful market launch that considers the current attitude towards travel eSIMs and how to translate their benefits to travellers.


To download Mobilise’s full travel eSIM survey and discover more unique insights, please visit the website.

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