Redefining Top Tourist Locations in the US through Social Conversations
The United States is filled with a wide variety of incredible destinations, attracting millions of international and domestic tourists each year. While some travel to Tennessee to hike the paths of the Great Smoky Mountains, others prefer the Blackjack tables on the Las Vegas Strip. In 2013, visitors spent an astonishing $887.9 billion, contributing to the tourism industry’s economic impact of $2.1 trillion.
Not only does the entire nation benefit from $133.9 billion in tax revenue and 14.9 million jobs created by the tourism industry, businesses, cities, and regions thrive when tourists generate economic activity in their areas by patronizing restaurants, going on tours, and buying souvenirs.
In order to draw the most business to a destination, marketers, advertisers, and business owners must listen to tourists. A sleepless night in an unpleasant hotel room or a disastrous dining experience can spoil an entire vacation, greatly diminishing the possibility of a return visit. These experiences are especially important as visitors are increasingly plugged into social media. While a negative experience may have been forgotten in years past, now they are uploaded to the web and shared with friends, colleagues, and strangers in a matter of seconds.
Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight can be used to track tourism conversations, analyzing the topics and experiences that tourists are sharing. A look at the top tourist destinations in the United States exposes the features that contribute to current tourism trends.
Looking at Twitter data from May 2013 to August 2013, key differences in net sentiment and relevant conversation volume separated the top 10 tourist destinations. Interestingly, the data collected from Twitter differs only marginally from a ranking constructed by Forbes in 2010. The most significant distinctions include Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA which dropped five spots, and three destinations that all rose by 4 spots in our Twitter analysis: Navy Pier in Chicago, IL, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
These distinctions suggest that destinations’ success vary over time and methodology may play a role in the determining rank. A deeper analysis into the Twitter conversation will highlight the factors that contribute to rising or falling in the rankings.
One method for analyzing social media conversation is looking at volume over time, allowing us to spot trends and compare conversations. It is clear that the conversations surrounding Walt Disney Resorts and Time Square are the largest, dwarfing the remaining destinations. Interestingly, it is also evident that all of the conversations follow unique trends, producing peaks at different time periods.
Looking at the most popular retweets during the weeks of these peaks, we see that the spikes in conversation are often due to popular news stories that affected visitor experiences and local events. For instance, the Times Square Tweets focused on celebrity engagements.
— Ryan Hughes – WFTV (@RHughesWFTV) May 29, 2013
Another helpful tool is analyst defined sentiment monitors which display positive, neutral, and negative proportions of conversation. In order to compare the destinations accurately, net sentiment can be found by subtracting the percentage of negative posts from the percentage of positive posts.
A basic breakdown of drivers of sentiment shows that, specifically, the majority of positive conversation about Disney expresses a desire to visit. This may suggest that marketing and positive associations around Disney Resorts generate timeless excitement and anticipation around the attractions.
The Disney Resorts came in first place for net sentiment at +52. This destination also came in 1st place for conversation volume and 2nd place for annual visitors, which indicates that these attractions are not only popular, but also well-liked.
A breakdown of the drivers of sentiment highlights the themes that are most prevalent in the conversation. Not surprisingly, the majority of positive conversation about Disney expresses a desire to visit, a feeling experienced by adults and children alike. Marketers and advertisers can take comfort in these statistics, knowing that the Disney Resorts generate timeless excitement and anticipation.
In contrast to the Disney Resorts conversation, the Golden Gate Bridge conversation earned a net sentiment of -33%. This negative conversation appears to contradict rankings based on visitors and Twitter volume at number 6 and 4 respectively.
Comments about poor weather drove the negative Golden Gate Bridge conversation because visitors complained about cold, windy, and foggy conditions. Additionally, the Golden Gate Bridge’s reputation as a suicide spot also contributed to negative discussion.
Although sales and tourism statistics are valuable measures of the tourism industry’s health, listening to tourists highlights the thoughts and feelings that are rarely left on comment cards. Tracking volume and sentiment over time helps businesses address consumer concerns and play to their strengths as tourists are drawn to destinations for popular attractions.
The positive conversation surrounding Disney Resorts is exceptional, propelled by nostalgic family fun, realistic expectations, and strong attachment to the park attractions. While destinations may have difficulty creating the same ethos, the positive drivers of sentiment can serve as a model for countering negative associations they face.
In short, social media analysis provides marketers and advertisers with the tools they need to boost sales and their destination’s rating. In addition to analyzing conversation volume and sentiment, you can measure the popularity of individual attractions by analyzing visitors’ opinions, identify your audience’s interests with Affinities, and even expand to other social media social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Before starting your next advertising campaign you have to ask: if you want tourists to become immersed in your world, shouldn’t you be immersed in theirs?
For more insight into how various marketers can use social sentiment to gain consumer insights, please visit our blog today.