How Social Media Insights Can Help Build Cuba's Tourism

As the United States continues to develop new international relations with Cuba, the island has become a growing space for the tourism industry. After receiving a record-breaking 3.5 million travelers in 2015 and doubling its number of US visitors this past year, Cuba has struggled to keep up with the high demand of travel traffic. As Cuba has only recently become a flexible travel destination for Americans, and in order to learn more about this new market opportunity and the audiences interested in visiting Cuba, we wanted to investigate why travelers were so interested in visiting the island.
Initially, we began by looking at major topics surrounding Cuban travel behavior. By diving into intent-based conversations, we can see three major reasons attracting visitors to the island: Cuban food, culture, and weather.
From a historical standpoint, when monitoring volume metrics, we can see two major spikes of Cuban travel conversation. The first was during December 2014, stemming from President Obama’s official statement on Cuban policy changes. The second largest influx occurred in March 2016, when the president visited the island with his family, being the first US president in almost a century to touch down in Havana.
Moreover, when diving into the food, culture, and weather conversations, we can see that ‘Food’ dominated most of the discussion throughout 2014. However, since the beginning of 2016, interest in ‘Culture’  has spiked, increasing 36 percentage points since January of 2014. With these types of insights, campaigns will become more successful when tailored to represent what consumers care most about in the present moment.
By further filtering the discussion of Cuban culture, we were able to find subtopics that had consumers buzzing across social. From the data, it’s clear that when discussing culture, travelers are enthusiastic about Cuban cigars, vintage cars, and the unchanged 50’s lifestyle that makes Cuba so unique.

Digging deeper into the car conversation, Cuba’s classic cars are most appealing to male consumers, with a majority falling in the demographic category of 35 and older. We can also see that the vintage vehicles have become an especially hot topic right now, where talks online have increased 134% since 2014. With such a large influx in discussion, we can’t help but wonder, what preempted this change within the antique car discussion?
With social insights in hand, travel brands are able to watch how consumer conversations formulate online, such as understanding what effect the Kardashian’s trip to Cuba had on the vintage car conversation. By accessing real-time data and top influencers, travel executives can use this data to further understand their key audience, homing in on their target buyer persona. In doing so, businesses will be able to better address those who are enthusiastic about cars, as well as relevant interests, such as the Kardashians. Consumers have spoken, and they’re tired of being marketed to in less than personal ways. Armed with audience interests, and top influencers, advertisements and campaigns can become seamless, and collaborative with consumers.
Knowing that the travel market in Cuba is relatively fresh, and considering that traditional tourism not allowed in Cuba at the moment, travel brands can use these insights to plan ‘people to people’ excursions, incorporating high interest activities, gleaned directly from customer insights. Possible itineraries could include buzzwords such as “cars”, ‘culture’ or “cigars”. By understanding consumer’s intent to travel, industry researchers can make smarter branding and marketing decisions to attract as many relevant travelers as possible.
To learn more about the impact of social insights on the travel industry, check out our top US Hotels report here.

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