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Are mobile devices playing a part in creating new tourist practices? Les Champs-Elysées: a case study

Peer-reviewed article
Marie Delaplace et Leïla Kebir
Traduction de Université Bretagne Occidentale
Cet article est une traduction de :
Les terminaux mobiles contribuent-ils à renouveler les pratiques des touristes ? Le cas des Champs Elysées [fr]
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Os terminais móveis contribuem com a renovação das práticas dos turistas? O caso da Champs Élysees [pt]


Mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) have the potential to change tourist practices in a place. They allow tourists to directly book accommodation, activities or restaurants. They can affect access and circulation within a destination, as well as the tourist’s experience. The aim of this paper is to ascertain whether these mobile devices actually change tourist practices in situ. A survey was therefore carried out in May-June 2018 on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. This allowed us to identify the types of people on the Champs-Elysées, their reasons for being there, and how they were using their mobile devices. Drawing on the data relating to respondents who described the purpose of their visit as “tourism”, we shall demonstrate that although they had access to this technology, and over three-quarters had internet connectivity, their usage was ultimately very traditional in that it largely facilitated pre-existing practices in a different way.

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1Elements which contribute to tourism appeal (infrastructure quality, mobility inside and towards a destination, availability of hotel accommodation, quality of human resources, heritage sites, etc.) are affected in several respects by digital technology. These technologies have prompted developments in travel planning such as online marketing of destinations, online booking of accommodation and activities, and downloading of local apps prior to travel. Traditional tourism sectors (accommodation and transport) are also being impacted by the growth of the collaborative economy and platforms which have brought about a revolution in service delivery. Furthermore, these technologies generate big data which can be used for marketing purposes by operators. Lastly, as was already highlighted by Buhalis and Law in 2008, wireless mobile technologies and the new possibilities offered by mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) open up fresh avenues for development due to their potential to create innovative products and services. The aim of this paper is to analyse these devices and the services they offer (location-based services, augmented reality and overlap reality, instant access to information about a destination on social media, immediate sharing of experiences, etc.). Do they facilitate the development of new uses and practices? Are they becoming key elements of the experience in situ? Their increasingly widespread and virtually continuous use has the potential to modify people’s movements, activities and experiences in a destination, but how do tourists use them? Are these uses innovative? Which services are actually used? This paper analyses these practices on the basis of a survey carried out on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. We present the rise in mobile device ownership and use in France and worldwide, and provide examples of investment by tourism stakeholders in these technologies and the practices they facilitate (Part I). The survey then allows us to demonstrate that, contrary to expectations, these practices are ultimately rather limited and not particularly innovative (Part II).

I. The development of m-tourism in France

A. Increased digital use in tourism

2Tourism is recognized as a pioneer in the field of digital transformation (Cabrespines and Wargnie, 2017), and the economic sector in which digital transformation has progressed the most rapidly (McKinsey, 2014). According to Datareportal,1 the primary motivation for online shopping worldwide is travel (including accommodation bookings) with expenditure estimated at 750.7 billion dollars in 2019, followed by the purchase of clothing (524.7 billion) and music (250 billion). In practical terms, m-tourism, structured around the use of technology and mobile devices (touchscreen tablets and smartphones) in situ is the biggest growth area after e-tourism (online booking, online tourist guides, etc.). The expansion of mobile networks and rising device ownership are promoting these uses. In 2018, the penetration rate of mobile phones was 67% globally, i.e. 10 percentage points higher than the internet at 57%. By way of comparison, in France in 2019, these figures were 99% for mobile phones and 92% for internet (source: Datareportal).2 These figures are steadily increasing, notably for mobile phones (Datareportal),3 and the number of tourists visiting France who own these devices is high. Document 1 shows the penetration rate of mobile phones in 2018 in the main outbound countries for international tourists visiting France.

Document 1: Mobile phone penetration rate in 20184 for the main outbound countries for international tourists visiting France

Overnight stays
(in millions)1

% of total overnight stays1

Mobile phone penetration rate

United Kingdom








Belgium and Luxembourg




















United States








Rest of the world








DGE 2019, 1 DGE, 2018, data from December 2017; Datareportal, data from January 2018
* Excluding Hong Kong and Macao

3Tourists from the nine main outbound countries accounted for 73% of overnight stays in 2017 (DGE, 2018). They were predominantly European (from Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and the Netherlands), but also included American and Chinese tourists. They came from countries with a mobile telephone penetration rate of between 71% and 87% (Datareportal, 2018). Smartphone and tablet use in these countries is therefore relatively high (Document 2).

Document 2: Smartphone and tablet use by adults in 2018 in the main outbound countries for international tourists visiting France


Percentage of adults using a smartphone

Percentage of adults using a tablet

United Kingdom





















United States






Datareportal, data from January 2018
*Excluding Hong Kong and Macao; **No data available for Luxembourg

4According to Datareportal, 2018,5 the percentage of adults in the main outbound countries for international tourists visiting France using smartphones is between 71% (Belgium and Switzerland) and 87% (Spain and the Netherlands). The percentage of tablet users is lower (ranging from 20% for China to 61% for the Netherlands).

5As for domestic tourism, in mainland France in 2017 there were almost 835 million overnight stays for private travel for residents aged 15 or over (DGE, 2018). These customers were also well-equipped with technology as the mobile phone penetration rate for January 2018 was 75%, and smartphone and tablet use by adults was 71% and 41% respectively (source: Datareportal 2018).6

6In this context, the development of 3G and then 4G, the rollout of free Wi-Fi in many tourist venues and public spaces and the end of roaming charges in the European Union are all factors which potentially facilitate mobile device use by visitors during tourist trips. Many tourist sites and destinations are also investing in m-tourism services.

B. Tourism stakeholder investment to promote mobile device use in situ

7The development of digital tools is changing practices and communications around tourism (Viallon, 2015). Tourism stakeholders are developing their m-tourism operations, notably with apps designed for use in a destination, and are also active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) as these channels have a growing influence on destination choices. Investment is focused on three objectives.

8Facilitating internet access by providing free Wi-Fi

9Tourists can only use their mobile devices if digital coverage in a country is adequate. This is an essential aspect of its appeal, particularly for tourism (Cabrespines and Wargnie, 2017). The French High-Speed Broadband Plan rolled out in 2015 acknowledged that coverage is not uniform across the country “Digital is now used in every area of life: in transport, businesses, leisure, smart objects, access to information, smartphones, etc. But it is not available everywhere […] due to inadequate – or non-existent – infrastructure (Page 3). Furthermore, digital coverage varies in quality. In France, in late 2018, 6.8 million people had no access to minimum-quality internet connectivity (>3 Mbit/s). 20% of the population did not have access to “good broadband” (> 8 Mbit/s).7

10Usage charges represent another significant issue. Many tourist operators therefore offer free Wi-Fi connectivity to encourage the use of mobile devices, notably by international visitors from outside the European Union.8 Tourist information offices have installed Wi-Fi hotspots in or near their premises and free access is now available in hotels, restaurants and on long-distance public transport. Tourist information offices, and towns and villages more widely, can set up local Wi-Fi hotspots with funding from the European Union.9 This allows them to reduce the number of digital “dead zones”, facilitates internet use, and means that visitors only have to provide authentication once. The French National Federation of Tourist Information Offices also created the “Point-I mobile” facility in 2014 offering free visitor Wi-Fi. Some tourist information offices, either individually or collectively, are developing Wi-Fi solutions with companies such as Touristobox10 and 2ISR.11 In Alsace, in 2007, public and private tourism stakeholders created the Witou association, which provides Wi-Fi connectivity.

11To provide information accessible via mobile devices to enhance the visitor experience

  • 12 Agences de développement touristique (ADTs) provide assistance to project developers, professionals (...)

12In order to extend their services, tourism stakeholders (museums, tourist information offices, regional and departmental tourism development agencies12) can harness m-tourism using a variety of tools. Firstly, they can use responsive website design, which is compatible with all types of device (computer screen, phone or tablet) to allow access via mobile devices to the digital services they provide. They can also develop m-tourism apps.

13There are three broad categories of app (Bourliataux-Lajoinie, Rivière, 2013):

14The first type are geolocation apps. These apps are already embedded in mobile devices, but must be activated by the user. They allow the user to establish their geographical location in real time for navigation purposes, and also to locate a shop or business, heritage site, or specific place and plan the best route to it. Google Maps is the best-known example. The advantage of these apps is that they allow users to identify in situ the places they want to visit and to receive additional information on the mobile device almost automatically (location of local amenities and tourist sites, sometimes with photos and videos).

15The second type is the QR code (Quick Response code) which first appeared in Japan in 1994. This is a square pictogram which can be scanned on a mobile device using a previously downloaded app in order to access information. In the tourism sector, for example, this type of code can be displayed on a monument to provide practical information (opening hours, admission charges, etc.).

16The third type are dedicated apps which must be downloaded on mobile devices. These apps can provide specific information in situ (practical information, images, explanatory text, user recommendations, etc.). For example, the Foursquare app allows users to make personal recommendations (for restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife venues, etc.) and earn points. An even more innovative approach is the use of augmented reality which allows users to view additional information overlaid onto the real world, such as images of former buildings which no longer exist on their original sites. In France, since 2012, many museums have also developed apps (Lesaffre et al., 2014). Lastly, overlap reality apps allow users to view a video or archive images which are a type of second reality overlaid on the actual environment. Sites equipped with SkyBoy, for example, can add virtual information to a real location. Once tourists have downloaded the app and activated geolocation, they can point their device towards a designated spot and experience an immersive experience there. They can take a virtual tour or see a guide and follow them on a tour, etc. These apps are often available in several languages.

17The textbox below shows examples of investment in technology by tourism stakeholders in France.

  • 13 This technology enables users to exchange data, e.g. to make contactless payments.
  • 14 Financed with funding from the municipality of Epernay.
  • 15

Geolocation apps with associated content

Seine-et-Marne Tourisme provides a free real-time guided walk app called Balad’Nature which points out local tourist sites of interest (chateaux, churches, natural sites, etc.) and local services (tourist information offices, accommodation, and restaurants).

The new Occitanie region has developed a number of apps for exploring the region (Grands Sites de Midi-Pyrénées, Chemins de St-Jacques de Compostelle Midi-Pyrénées, etc.).

QR codes or NFC (Near Field Communication) tags13

The Syndicat Manche Numérique local authority association has introduced a system of flashcodes on buildings that provides access to digital content. The Kit M guide is a practical guide to the Manche region featuring hundreds of documents about its heritage and how to visit heritage sites, and directions to local areas of interest.

Augmented reality apps 

Géomotifs is an app developed with funding from the Centre Val de Loire region which provides access to details of heritage in Orléans and Tours. When a tourist photographs a building, details about this heritage site appear on their mobile device.

Virtual overlay apps

The Epernay Pays de Champagne (Epernay, Marne) tourist information office uses the Overlap Reality®14 app to provide a 360° immersive video experience at key local sites on the avenue de Champagne using pictograms (Hôtel de Ville, Orangerie Moët & Chandon, Le Château Perrier; le Lycée Stéphane Hessel; la place de Champagne).15

Studio Screens 44 has developed the Arromanches 1944 app which combines reality and virtual reality to create an immersive experience of the Normandy landings for smartphone and tablet users.

18Digital tools, and the above-mentioned tools in particular, enhance the tourist experience (see below). These tools can be viewed as resources that can influence tourism practices within a space and consequently the visitor experience (Simon, 2015).

19Social media and social networks: tools for tourism actors

20Social media is another area in which stakeholders are making m-tourism related investments. Literature on the use of social media in destinations’ communications strategies describes business-to-business interaction (Tran et al., 2016, Sørensen, 2007) and business-to-customer interaction. According to Költringer and Dickinger (2015, cited by Molinillo, 2017), social media offers the richest and most diverse source of online information. In 2013, Hay et al. (2013) stated that these networks had revolutionised how destination management stakeholders operated by changing the way in which travellers accessed information, planned their trips, and shared their experiences.

21Today, numerous tourism stakeholders therefore use social media to enhance their image (Molinillo et al., 2017). For example, the use of Twitter for communications and destination promotion, and hashtags for specific events to raise profiles. However, the most disruptive aspect of this medium is that it allows tourists and local residents to become co-creators in the destination brand (Oliveira and Panyik, 2015): by sharing content, and posting comments in real time, they help to shape the image of the destination. “Content generated by tourists, travellers, professional travel bloggers and travel journalists who post, comment and share information on social media channels is arguably the greatest digital challenge of destination branding today” (Oliveira and Panyik, 2015). Tourists with internet access can share images of events, photos and even geotagged photos with friends and family (Courrieu, 2012). These activities help to build the online reputation of a destination and have an influence on its image. Kim and Stepchenkova (2015) show the significant impact of photos posted by visitors on other social media users’ perceptions of destinations and on their travel plans. Local residents sometimes use social media to become ambassadors for a destination.

22Some stakeholders have invested in social media activity involving local residents. Tourist information offices, groups of French towns and communes (intercommunalités) or regional communities (Pays) have set up programmes of free outings and tours for “ambassadors”16 who are willing to communicate about their town. These ambassadors, who are often local residents, are stakeholders who make a commitment not only to represent their area, but also to welcome tourists. The tourist information office in Auxerre works with a “community of ambassadors” who take photos of the local area which are then posted on social media (Territoires conseil, 2017). The Dunkirk ambassadors website17 describes their activities, notably those on social media. Residents are a major source of local tourism content, whose contributions include supplementing geolocation services such as OpenStreetMap, or Google Maps with “must-see” places, personal photos showcasing their district, town or region, posting reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, blogging or running forums.

23It can be seen that tourism stakeholders in these destinations are rolling out various initiatives to promote m-tourism based on rising mobile device ownership and internet access in situ. However, while this appears to raise the prospect of new uses and behaviours, is this actually the case? Do tourists use them and do they change their practices in situ?

II. Which in situ visitor practices can be attributed to m-tourism?

24To our knowledge, very few analyses make it possible to identify m-tourism practices. After outlining findings from existing analyses, this section will present the results of research on this topic carried out on the Champs-Elysées.

A. Using and adopting mobile devices in a destination and the tourist experience

25Analysing the way in which mobile devices modify the tourist experience involves making a distinction between fully adopting this innovation and simply just using it. Adoption leads to a behavioural change which can be reflected in new strategies. This involves not just integrating the use of this innovation into everyday life, but “bringing something new to the user’s life” (Proulx et al., 2007; cf. also Haddon, 2011 on this aspect). However, it is clear that the issue of end user adoption of technologies has often been overlooked (Akrich, 1990, p. 83). “Evolutionary economics, business studies and innovation studies tend to focus mainly on the production-side and the creation of knowledge and innovation (e.g. learning within firms, organisational routines, knowledge management), while the user side has received less attention” (Geels, 2004, p. 900). However, these techniques – and the economy which they shape – are embedded in the social realm (Granovetter, 1985). Technical and social aspects must be considered in tandem (Flichy, 2003, p. 75 ff.) in order to understand potential interactions between digital and tourist experiences.

26The tourist experience is defined in simple terms here as “everything which occurs in a tourism situation” (cf. Vergopoulos, 2016 for a survey of definitions of the tourist experience). According to some authors, digital facilitates a different tourist experience (Gretzel and Jamal, 2009). By analysing what they call “creative tourists” (with reference to the Florida Creative Class), Gretzel and Jamal (2009) suggest that mobile technologies make it possible to change the production of experience in situ. Furthermore, based on analysis carried out in Zermatt, Ellina Mourtazina (2019, p.3) shows how digital photography changes the tourist experience; it is not a way of seeing, but should be viewed as a “way of being in the world and interacting with these elements of the world around us”.

27By contrast, in their analysis of the impact of digital guides on tourist exploration of heritage, Bideran and Fraysse (2015, p. 5) highlight how the tool can also make for a more uniform and directed tourist experience in the sense that it advises “the user on the optimal position from which to achieve the best shot with their mobile device.”

28However, a study carried out by CRT Bretagne in 2013 on the various uses of smartphones by European visitors during their stay showed that usage was in fact quite traditional in the sense that smartphones allowed them to do things that could previously be done in a different way with a guide, or at a different time with stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector. The main use is to access practical information, and find local restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. Mobile devices become tourist guides (Gallouj and Leroux, 2011) allowing users to find tour itineraries, to co-create their own route, access historical and cultural information, and take part in events and activities nearby which they were not aware of. Sharing reviews and photos on social media is the next most systematic and frequent use, running a close second to accessing practical information. But although these uses may be traditional, they also afford tourists a greater degree of autonomy and independence (Buhalis and Law, 2008, Gretzel et al., 2014).

29In this study, by contrast, other uses, notably those associated with apps offering more than basic geolocation, do not appear to be very well developed at present. QR codes are not frequently used (5% systematically, 14% quite frequently). Similarly, virtual tours of cultural sites are used systematically by fewer than 5% of respondents, and quite frequently by 18%.

30Tourists do not therefore seem to have fully adopted these new technologies. This study appears to show that smartphones have only led to the emergence of new practices for a very small number of tourists. However, in 2013, when this research was carried out, levels of mobile device ownership were lower according to CREDOC (Albérola E. et al., 2017, p. 8).

31Moreover, device usage and therefore the potential for full adoption, can differ by area depending on spatial variations in digital coverage. (see above).

B. The Champs-Elysées case study: methodology and population

32In order to identify how m-tourism affects practices, a survey was conducted on the Champs-Elysées. This survey was part of a research programme carried out by the Ville Tourisme Transport et Territoires group of the LabEX Futurs Urbains at the Université de Paris Est, focusing on spatial use and relationships between permanent residents (local inhabitants, workers) and temporary visitors (tourists, day trippers, and other transient users) in tourist destinations. The aim of this research was to show on the one hand how tourists and residents coexist, interact, and sometimes complement each other in tourist destinations, and on the other hand how they behave in these destinations and in particular the nature of their digital practices. To achieve this, surveys were conducted in different “tourist destinations” (Roland Garros, La Vallée Village, les Champs-Elysées). We shall focus here on practices involving digital devices on the Champs-Elysées, which is particularly interesting as it is a place where tourists, people passing through, workers, and residents are all present.

33The survey site

34The avenue des Champs-Elysées is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, between the place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées-Marcel-Dassault roundabout (cf. Document 3).

Document 3: Location of the Champs-Elysées

Document 3: Location of the Champs-Elysées

Google Maps

  • 18 This is not yet the case in rural tourist areas.

35The avenue has been home to shops and businesses since the early nineteenth century. It became a prestigious location frequented by the cream of foreign society in the 1900s (Aufrère, 1950) and then one of the main visitor attractions in Paris. Located in the heart of the city, the avenue has good digital coverage, as is increasingly the case in many cities.18

  • 19 The Comité Champs-Elysées was established in 1916 and is responsible for the “promotion, developmen (...)

36To promote visitor connectivity, the Comité des Champs-Elysées19 has been providing free unlimited high-speed broadband access along the entire avenue since 2016, signposted by a logo (cf. Document 4).

Document 4: The Champs-Elysées Wi-Fi logo

Document 4: The Champs-Elysées Wi-Fi logo

37Fifty-eight Wi-Fi hotspots have been set up along the Champs-Elysées,20 mostly on Morris advertising columns owned by JCDecaux, which is a partner in this initiative, therefore providing the avenue with very good digital coverage.

38However, it is clear that very few apps referring specifically to the Champs-Elysées have been developed in Paris. Of the 20 practical apps for Paris listed in July 2018 in the guide,21 only the “Welcome to Paris” app developed by the Office de Tourisme et de Congrès de Paris in collaboration with Orange refers to the Champs-Elysées. It allows users to plan their itinerary by providing addresses, events, routes, and practical information, directly purchase an entrance ticket for a museum and access details of events and places to visit in the vicinity. By contrast, other apps – such as “Paris au fil de la Seine” (developed by Paris Musées, which allows users to view geolocated paintings and photographs from various museums tracing the history of areas along the Seine over time), or Foxie, which takes users on a tour of unusual streets – do not feature the Champs-Elysées.

39Lastly, and as far as we are aware, since the closure of the Virgin Megastore, there are no longer any shops, businesses or institutions using QR codes on the Champs-Elysées.

40In this context, the aim was to identify m-tourism related mobile device used by tourists.

41The conduct of the survey

42A face-to-face survey was carried out in the last fortnight of May 2018 and during the second and third weeks of June 2018. The aim was to identify visitor types present on the avenue des Champs-Elysées (French and international tourists, residents from Paris and from the Ile-de-France (outside Paris) region, day trippers, etc.) and their digital practices.

43Face to face questionnaires were conducted at different times of day and, to a lesser extent, in the evening until 9pm and occasionally 11pm, every day including weekends. The questionnaire administrators were always positioned in the same two locations on either side of the avenue. People were selected randomly irrespective of age, gender, social category or nationality. The survey lasted approximately 10 minutes per respondent. Once a questionnaire was completed, the survey administrator would ask each subsequent passer-by to take part in the survey. 408 questionnaires were completed in English and French on the avenue des Champs-Elysées.

44Visitors to the Champs-Elysées and their reasons for being there

  • 22 However, as is the case with most face-to-face surveys, the number of international visitors is pro (...)

45The survey revealed a significant number of French residents on the avenue (70.1% of visitors). 26.85% were from Ile de France region and 25.54% from Paris. 13.8% were from other French towns. International visitors only accounted for 29.9% of the sample, predominantly from other European countries, but also from other non-European countries (United States, Brazil, China, and Morocco).22

46Most of the survey population were young, with 30.2% of visitors aged between 25 and 39, and just over 20% between 20 and 24 years of age (cf. Document 5). Knowing that young people use these mobile technologies more than older people, it was supposed there would be a high usage among our sample.

Document 5: Age of visitors to the avenue des Champs-Elysées

Document 5: Age of visitors to the avenue des Champs-Elysées

The authors, based on survey responses

47Employees and students were the main socio-professional category (SPC), accounting for 25.3% and 23.8% respectively, followed by management and intellectual upper socio-professional categories, and then middle-tier professionals (cf. Document 6).

Document 6: SPCs present on the avenue des Champs-Elysées

Document 6: SPCs present on the avenue des Champs-Elysées

The authors, based on survey data

  • 23 Only one reason could be selected.
  • 24 Three people who said that they were present for tourism but lived in the Ile de France region were (...)

48The survey identified the main reason23 for being on the Champs-Elysées (Document 7). Tourism was the main reason with 122 visitors,24 followed by work (83), shopping (67), and leisure (64).

Document 7: Main reason for being on the Champs-Elysées

Document 7: Main reason for being on the Champs-Elysées

The authors, based on survey data

49We defined the tourist category as those respondents who cited “Tourism” as a reason for visiting. There were 90 tourists from abroad and 32 were French residents from outside the Ile de France area.

C. Tourist internet and mobile device use

50The survey allowed us to identify internet use both before arriving on the Champs-Elysées and in situ.

51Internet use prior to arrival on the Champs-Elysées

52Overall, 45.1% (184/405) of visitors used the internet prior to arriving on the Champs-Elysées, and 71.3% (87/122) of tourists did so. Internet use before arrival was higher among foreign tourists (75.5% or 68/90) than French tourists (59.4% or 19/32).

  • 25 23.1% of visitors also used other sources of information (word of mouth, family, friends, and print (...)

53The internet was the only source of information for 67.2% (82/122) of tourists.25

54But 48.6% (17/35) of tourists did not consult either the internet or any other sources of information. They were simply there to explore, soak up the atmosphere, or stroll.

  • 26 Nine tourists consulted Facebook, 7 looked at blogs or forums, and 4 viewed Twitter.

55The first websites consulted were dedicated sites (44.8% or 39/87), and this was the case for 55.9% (38/68) of non-resident tourists who consulted the internet. Tourists who connected to the internet then consulted online guides (27.6% or 24/87).26

56The main searches were related to transport, primarily public transport routes, followed by vehicle and pedestrian routes (Document 8). However, very few people went online to book an activity. Only 6.6% (8/122) of tourists used the internet prior to arriving to book transport. No respondents booked a non-transport activity online prior to arrival.

The authors, based on survey data

57Internet use on the Champs-Elysées

58Internet use on the Champs-Elysées was dependent primarily on ownership of a device. 91% (111/122) of tourists had a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) but only 72.1% (80/111) of them went online on the Champs-Elysées. 87.5% (70/80) used their own internet connection and 12.5% (10/80) used the free Wi-Fi available on the Champs-Elysées and/or in stores. Only 8.75% (7/80) made exclusive use of the free Wi-Fi on the Champs-Elysées.

59Non-resident (foreign) tourists used this facility more than resident tourists from other French regions.

60However, it is clear that uptake of specific apps and QR codes was low.

61Overall, 94.3% (115/122) of tourists did not download mobile apps for use during their visit to the Champs-Elysées (77.7% (83/90) of non-resident tourists; 100% of resident tourists from other French regions). Furthermore, only 6.7% (6/90) of non-resident tourists used apps to access a map with geolocation, plan a route, get weather information, and only 4.4% (4/90) to find restaurants or access information about events on the Champs-Elysées (cf. Document 9). By contrast, no resident tourists used an app. Similarly, no tourist (non-resident or resident) used their smartphone to meet up with somebody, scan a QR code, read reviews or make use of special offers.

Document 9: Reasons for using apps on the Champs-Elysées

Document 9: Reasons for using apps on the Champs-Elysées

The authors, based on survey data

62However, mobile devices were used to share information by 34.4% (42/122) of tourists and 52.3% (22/42) of them did so while they were on the Champs-Elysées, with no significant difference between resident and non-resident tourists. 45.2% of tourists did so subsequently. 90.5% (20/22) shared photographs or videos, 81.8% (18/22) while they were on the Champs-Elysées; other uses such as providing one’s location or posting a review were very low (cf. Document 10).


Document 10: Types of use on the Champs-Elysées

Document 10: Types of use on the Champs-Elysées

The authors, based on survey data

64Finally, and unexpectedly, no tourists on the Champs-Elysées changed their activity on the Champs-Elysées after accessing information online.


65A significant body of literature reflects the view that both digital and mobile devices present numerous opportunities to rethink destinations and to innovate in order to create the smart destination of the future (Gretzel et al., 2015). Similarly, many tourism stakeholders are investing in these technologies by providing apps, engaging with social media, and interacting with tourists. However, this raises the question of whether visitors make use of them and, if so, for what purpose. The survey on the Champs-Elysées shows that the internet primarily seems to be a tool for planning a visit before arrival, particularly for international visitors. It also shows that most visitors have smartphones with their own internet connection. In situ, smartphones and the internet are used to share videos and photos, i.e. to share an experience. Consulting Facebook, and booking services for transport, hotels, restaurants and tours have poor uptake and this also applies to the more innovative aspects of m-tourism (dedicated apps, QR codes, etc.). The issue lies in identifying the reasons behind this low growth. The first reason appears to be related to the low level of tourism offer on the Champs-Elysées. The avenue is so famous that developing this type of product may well be unnecessary. Furthermore, because exploring the Champs-Elysées more generally and soaking up its atmosphere is the primary tourist activity, this type of tool is less useful as searching for information on the Champs-Elysées is less critical than for other tourist sites. Further research should therefore focus on less familiar sites or sites where more information is required for a full appreciation, to identify whether these more innovative uses are better developed and have a higher uptake there.

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1 Source:, 10/03/2020, 15:20, p. 196.

2, 10/03/2020, 15:30, p. 5.

3, 10/03/2020, 15:50, p. 89.

4 Source:, 10/03/2020, 15:40, p. 7.

5, 10/03/2020, 17:00.

6, 10/03/2020, 18:30.

7, p.37, consulted 17/03/2020

8 Use has increased since roaming charges in Europe ended on 15 June 2017.

9 In 2016, the European Union announced that every village and town in Europe would have free wireless internet by 2020.



12 Agences de développement touristique (ADTs) provide assistance to project developers, professionals and local authorities to promote tourist destinations and, in certain cases, to market trips and excursions. They sometimes offer a booking service: ADRT

13 This technology enables users to exchange data, e.g. to make contactless payments.

14 Financed with funding from the municipality of Epernay.


16 This is the case, for example, in Troyes


18 This is not yet the case in rural tourist areas.

19 The Comité Champs-Elysées was established in 1916 and is responsible for the “promotion, development and international reach of the avenue and the Champs-Elysées district in Paris.”

20, 20/03/2020


22 However, as is the case with most face-to-face surveys, the number of international visitors is probably higher. This is because international visitors, and Asian visitors in particular, are unlikely to complete a questionnaire.

23 Only one reason could be selected.

24 Three people who said that they were present for tourism but lived in the Ile de France region were excluded.

25 23.1% of visitors also used other sources of information (word of mouth, family, friends, and printed guides).

26 Nine tourists consulted Facebook, 7 looked at blogs or forums, and 4 viewed Twitter.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Document 3: Location of the Champs-Elysées
Crédits Google Maps
Fichier image/jpeg, 468k
Titre Document 4: The Champs-Elysées Wi-Fi logo
Fichier image/png, 14k
Titre Document 5: Age of visitors to the avenue des Champs-Elysées
Crédits The authors, based on survey responses
Fichier image/png, 11k
Titre Document 6: SPCs present on the avenue des Champs-Elysées
Crédits The authors, based on survey data
Fichier image/png, 32k
Titre Document 7: Main reason for being on the Champs-Elysées
Crédits The authors, based on survey data
Fichier image/png, 10k
Légende The authors, based on survey data
Fichier image/png, 9,4k
Titre Document 9: Reasons for using apps on the Champs-Elysées
Crédits The authors, based on survey data
Fichier image/png, 29k
Titre Document 10: Types of use on the Champs-Elysées
Crédits The authors, based on survey data
Fichier image/png, 12k
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Référence électronique

Marie Delaplace et Leïla Kebir, « Are mobile devices playing a part in creating new tourist practices? Les Champs-Elysées: a case study », Via [En ligne], 18 | 2020, mis en ligne le 27 décembre 2020, consulté le 14 juin 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Marie Delaplace

Université de Paris Est Marne la Vallée, Lab’Urba - EUP

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Leïla Kebir

Université de Lausanne, IGD

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Université Bretagne Occidentale

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