Ways in which travelers are using Twitter for tips

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Allianz Global Assistance, the travel insurance giant, has come out with a study of Twitter usage among travelers and the kinds of requests that they have related to travel. …

Allianz Global Assistance, the travel insurance giant, has come out with a study of Twitter usage among travelers and the kinds of requests that they have related to travel.

For more, check Skift's story: http://skift.com/2013/07/05/the-10-ways-in-which-travelers-are-using-twitter-for-tips/

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  • 1. #helpme Do travellers use Twitter to ask for help?
  • 2. Introduction: Twitter has the strongest growth among all Social Media Channels Launched in 2006, Twitter today has grown to the point where it counts nearly 200 million active users worldwide. Every day, 400 million messages containing no more than 140 characters are shared in real time on the micro-blogging platform. The Internet, Smartphones, tablets…all these devices enable users to benefit from an ever-increasing mobility. Twitter usage emphasises the behavioural changes taking place among those who navigate the Web ; this is no longer limited to looking up information and purchasing products and services online. Now social media channels enable Web « surfers » to share information within a community. This new form of communication goes beyond traditional boundaries ; not only can users connect with their own social networks but they can also connect with interested communities worldwide. Travellers actively navigate the Web Travellers have always been very active on the Internet : there are those who gather information to better organise a trip; those who offer advice and tips about a destination; those who talk about their travels; and those who share their photographs… With the Twitter phenomenon, travellers now have the opportunity to communicate from anywhere in the world, in real time, with anyone and everyone. Allianz Global Assistance was eager to learn more about these new travellers and how they use Twitter. Do travellers use Twitter to get help or request assistance ?
  • 3. Summary Introduction I – #Helpme methodology 1. Identifiying traveller tweets 2. Extracting tweets II – #Helpme results 1. What travel situations come up the most often on Twitter ? 2. What do travellers say on Twitter? 3. To whom do travellers send their tweets? 4. How many traveller tweets receive responses ? 5. Key findings and the « Twitter traveller profile » as identified by Allianz Global Assistance Overall conclusion
  • 4. I –The #helpme survey methodology The objective of this survey was to evaluate how travellers use Twitter to get help. Therefore, before anything else, it was necessary to identify tweets sent by travellers. 1. Identifying traveller tweets In an ideal scenario, the Twitter user had completed his/her account location – for example with « Paris, France ». This location then appeared in the profile. The user had also authorised within the account settings a function to allow locating his/her tweets. This function is deactivated by default. It was therefore possible to cross data and identify those people who tweet from places that are different from where they live. However, the amount of tweets located via GPS only represents 3% of all tweets. Therefore it would not have been representative if the survey had assessed Twitter usage based only on 3% of the 400 million tweets emitted daily throughout the world.
  • 5. Consequently, Twitter travellers were directly identified according to the written content of their tweets. Thanks to Allianz Global Assistance’s expertise in the travel domain, a semantic model was designed to represent all possible situations facing travellers today. These situations describe a traveller’s most preoccupying moments : before the trip, during the trip, and once he/she returns. First, a set of subject matter categories was defined so as to cover the traveller’s voice and concerns as widely as possible. These categories include visas, money and currency, tourism, transportation, refunds… Then, situations within these categories were defined and fine-tuned. For example, in the « money and currency » category we find situations such as « what is the exchange rate » or « find the nearest place to change money »… From this list came key words, which were used to make up the survey’s requests for asking for help on Twitter. These key words were written in English, first because travellers generally use English more and also because the English language made it possible to collect tweets in a variety of native languages and over a much larger geographic area. Extracting tweets A configurated collection tool made it possible to extract the travel tweets. Because the identified tweets were posted in real time and the tool allowed for several management options, survey teams were able to fine tune the requests and thereby optimise the results’ relevance. Extraction of the tweets for the #helpme survey was launched on Friday March 1st 2013 at 00:00 (midnight) and continued through Sunday March 31st, 2013, ending at 23:59PM. Researchers collected more than 25,000 tweets that corresponded to travellers’ requests for assistance. Results of the survey were drawn from a representative sample of 6,000 analysed tweets.
  • 6. II – #Helpme results 1. Which travel situations come up the most often on Twitter ? Nearly one hundred travel situations were identified and analysed for this survey. The 10 most frequent situations for which travellers requested assistance on Twitter are : 2. What do travellers say on Twitter ? For each of the 10 situations in which travellers request assistance on Twitter, the content of their tweets is presented in a word cloud, which reveals both the terms that are used and the number of times they appear. 38% 26% 7% 5% 3% 3% 2% 2% 2% 2% Find activities Get advices on organizing a trip Get flight refund Find the way Find a place to sleep Find the exchange rate Find a place to go out Find a hotel Choose the destination Obtenir un visa Top 10 of most common situations ( by percent)
  • 7. 1# Find activities • Travellers ask for advice about what to do or see that same day, or in the immediate future (« tonight », « tomorrow »…). • They mention the city they are in. The most cited city is London. Berlin, Houston, Jakarta, and Sydney are also mentioned.
  • 8. 2# Get advice on organising a trip • Before leaving travellers organise their trip without going into much detail : they seek more general advice (« ideas », « suggestions », « recommendations ») rather than advice about a very precise part of the trip.
  • 9. 3# Get refunded for a flight • Travellers complain about their problems with airlines with the aim to get a flight refunded. • Sometimes they send their tweets directly to the airline company for compensation. •
  • 10. 4# Get directions • When they are lost, travellers tweet in real time and request help with directions. • Some say where they are (London, Cardiff) or mention the country they are in (Thailand). Other tweets indicate the physical place, like the « airport » for example.
  • 11. 5# Find a place to sleep • Many terms are used to qualify or specify the type of lodging the traveller is looking for : « cheap », « reasonable », « big », « asap », « house », « patio »…
  • 12. 6# Get the exchange rate • To get the exchange rate, the study shows that many tweets directly address a specific person and mention that person with a @. • Euros, US and Canadian dollars, and English Pounds are the most cited currencies. Very common words like “rate” and “exchange” were removed from the cloud
  • 13. 7# Find a place to go or something to do • Travellers use Twitter to ask for advice about what restaurants, bars, or nightclubs to go to, or museums or other places of interest to visit…
  • 14. 8# Find a hotel • Travellers use Twitter for help in selecting a hotel usually before they leave. In their tweets, they mention when they will be travelling and needing a place to stay: « Monday », « October », « summer ». Very common words like “looking” and “hotel” were removed from the cloud
  • 15. 9# Choose a destination • Travellers also use Twitter to decide where to go on their next holiday. Sometimes they spell out exactly what they’re looking for : « sun », « cheap », « chilled », « exotic »… Very common words like “holidays” and “go” were removed from the cloud
  • 16. 10# Get a visa • Travellers also use Twitter to get advice about visa issues. Countries for which visa requests are the most frequent are: the UK, India, the USA… • Travellers describe the type of trip they are making: « friends », « family », « working », « visit »… Very common words like “get” and “visa” were removed from the cloud
  • 17. 3. To whom do travellers send their tweets? Analysing the target messages provided an interesting perspective on travellers’ requests for assistance, and revealed three types of Twitter behaviors : In 20% of cases, travellers used a hashtag to address a particular community. 38% of tweets were sent to an identified user. The remaining 42% were only seen by the traveller’s followers. 4. How many travellers’ tweets receive responses ? Tweets with a hashtag (for example #help, #lost or #paris). These tweets were sent to a specific community of people according to the hashtag that was used. Tweets with simple contents (text sometimes accompanied by a link or image). These tweets were only read by the traveller’s followers Tweets that mentioned a particular Twitter account (or several) to obtain a response to their requests for help (for example @monamiPaulquiavécuàLondres)
  • 18. Among all the tweets sent by people in « travelling situations », it’s easy to wonder how many tweets actually received a response. Under half, according to our survey. Only 37% of traveller tweets received at least one response. To be more precise, the survey looked closely at the different Twitter traveller profiles. The tweets that received the most responses to their requests for help were those that mentioned a particular account. 46% of traveller tweets that addressed an identified person or company obtained a response.
  • 19. 5. Key findings and the « Twitter traveller profile » as identified by Allianz Global Assistance The #Helpme survey made it possible for us to identify a traveller’s first steps on Twitter. • 38% of tweets ask questions that are tourism-related (a place to visit, an activity,…) ; 26% focus on a trip’s logistical organisation (hotel choice, cost of local transportation, etc.) ; 7% revolve around problems refunding an airline ticket. • The other questions cover things such as money, visas, lost luggage, contacting an embassy, etc. • We noticed that Twitter is rarely used in an emergency situation : car accidents, requests for repatriation, emergency hospitalisations, etc. • Travellers that use Twitter as a means to receive help have on average a much larger following that the average Twitter user. • More than one third of all tweets are sent directly to a professional with the help of a @. • On average, more than one third of tweets receive a response. This percentage increases if the tweet is sent to a particular person.
  • 20. Conclusion This is the first survey that attempts to analyse traveller behavior on Twitter. Due to a lack of any real technical capacity by Twitter to identify travellers via their exact location (via GPS), the survey relies on an innovative methodology based on a collection of Twitter user input that corresponds to different traveller situations. This survey emphasises the fact that travellers do indeed use Twitter to organise and plan their trips but also to get advice and information from travel professionals. It also emphasises how Twitter users mutually help one another and demonstrates that the probability of receiving help is linked to the direct questioning of a particular Twitter contact. To date, this survey demonstrates that Twitter is rarely used in emergency situations. Given the survey’s relatively short duration, all results should be reassessed and refined over a longer observation period.