Tuesday, 19 September 2017 09:53

Tracking your destination using social media data

There’s an old adage that goes: You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Destinations tend to measure the performance of their visitor economy through a range of indicators, such as visits to attractions, accommodation occupancy rates, and footfall at key locations; just some of the data that Acorn T-Stats includes in its destination tracking system.

However, as anyone who works in the tourism sector knows, destinations are affected by many external factors ranging from the global economy through to the local weather. You can run the perfect marketing campaign but still see numbers go down! So by measuring visitor volume it can be argued that destinations are measuring what they can’t (at least completely) manage.

This has led several destinations to start looking at what they can manage, and measuring their progress and success on that. One such measure is TripAdvisor ratings. The rationale is that destinations can have a direct influence on how visitors feel about accommodation, attractions, restaurants, tours, etc, by being able to influence their quality.

Every destination will have a large number of accommodations, attractions, local tours, restaurants and bars that are rated on TripAdvisor on a scale of 1 to 5. For example the two hotels below are rated 3.5 and 2.5 respectively.

It is possible to compile this data through a manual search or through setting up a system whereby the data is harvested automatically, to calculate averages of consumer ratings by whatever groups you decide to set up. These could be as “chunky” as accommodations, attractions, etc, or it could be sub-divided by type of accommodation or type of attraction (e.g. Parks and Gardens, Museums, etc).

For example, in this destination in East Sussex, which we are tracking, the average ratings for accommodations, attractions and restaurants for a given month is as shown below.

This clearly demonstrates that there is a low level of satisfaction with indoor attractions, and self-catering accommodation is not rated as highly as serviced accommodation. It is a simple process, but it provides, from a secondary source, useful insight.

Not only does this allow destinations to see where they need to improve, but by tracking the ratings on a monthly basis they can see if they are improving or not. At least this is something destinations can manage and measure!