How to Leverage Sentiment Analysis to Improve Tourism Destination Marketing

how is sentiment analysis useful

A how-to guide to understand how sentiment analysis is useful for attracting more international visitors.

Tracking and improving traveler sentiment, the level of satisfaction expressed in reviews, surveys and online content, is critical for DMOs and tourism destinations. By analyzing the sentiment recorded about both individual businesses (hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc.) and the destination overall, marketers can create tailored, effective campaigns that get travelers to click the ‘book now’ button.

The Data Appeal Company specializes in Sentiment Analysis and Reputation Management for destinations and tourism organizations. This guide will help you understand sentiment analysis and how it can be used to improve your destination’s marketing. We’ll also provide some practical tips to help you get started.

Summary

  1. What is Sentiment Analysis?
  2. How is sentiment analysis useful for tourist destinations?
  3. Use Case: Rotterdam Sentiment Analysis
  4. Data in action: How to take advantage of data-driven insights to improve the traveler experience and destination marketing
  5. How to track and monitor the overall sentiment of a destination

1 – What is Sentiment Analysis?

Sentiment Analysis is the process of identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text (i.e. reviews, online feedback, social posts, blogs, surveys, etc.), in order to determine if the writer’s perception towards a particular product or service is positive, negative or neutral.

Typically, Sentiment Analysis is conducted through Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Through this technology, computers can process and analyze large amounts of natural-language data to determine the emotional tone and most discussed topics within the body text.

At Data Appeal, this text is cleaned, organized, analyzed and evaluated. Five million pieces of content are processed each hour, and the outcome is what’s called Big Data. From this, we extract invaluable information and insights relating to the perception and behaviors of individuals.

We not only provide a polarity score for each piece of content, but we also identify the main topics, themes, and opinions related to them – at both a holistic and granular level.

2 – How is Sentiment Analysis useful for tourist destinations?

Online reviews and opinions (user-generated content) have an increasingly profound impact on traveler’s purchases and decision-making.

People tend to rely on the opinions of others when making travel decisions, in order to set expectations and reduce risk.

If travelers turn to online reviews about a destination and its hotels, restaurants and attractions, the destination itself cannot ignore them. In fact, a destination can reap the benefits of leveraging online content to derive actionable insights.

Online sentiment reflects the true perception of the local and tourist experience, highlighting their expectations and preferences. For this reason, Monitoring and analyzing online feedback is essential for developing a successful territorial marketing strategy for any tourism destination.

What do tourists think about a destination in general? Does the experience differ between domestic and international travelers? What’s the overall sentiment of hotels and restaurants? What are the most popular attractions and most discussed topics in online reviews?

Answering these questions can help destinations:

  • Create more effective marketing strategies to address audiences
  • Find new target markets and expand marketing efforts – online and in-person
  • Tailor offers and experiences that are more aligned with traveler needs
  • Build a solid digital image and nurture long-term relationships with tourists
  • Improve the international positioning of the destination when compared against competitor

3 – Use Case: Rotterdam Sentiment Analysis

As we’ve seen, understanding traveler expectations and desires supports a destination’s decisions, strategies and investments.

The tourism industry is increasingly relying on sentiment data to gauge traveler perception. Here are some exclusive insights on traveler sentiment in Rotterdam, one of the major cities in the Netherlands.

The data used in this use case has been collected and analyzed through Data Appeal Studio, our all-in-one destination analysis platform for DMOs, tourism boards and destinations.

Let’s have a look at the main data-driven insights about the perception of Rotterdam in the eyes of both locals and tourists. We will then reveal how to leverage this information to design more effective marketing and investment strategies.

For this study, our time period of analysis includes the last 12 months.

3.1 – Overall sentiment and seasonality

The overall sentiment score is quite high in Rotterdam: 83.8/100.

This is a proprietary index created by Data Appeal to gather and normalize opinions and content from over 130 online sources (review channels, social media, etc.) about the tourism-related points of interest in Rotterdam – hotels, restaurants, bars, attractions, breweries, etc.

This graph illustrates an initial peak in online content, and visitors, in February, reaching a climax in April for Easter holidays and August for summer vacation.

sentiment analysis

3.2 – Sentiment analysis by traveler origin and type

The sentiment varies according to the type of traveler and their origin country. This is particularly important when tailoring marketing campaigns for specific countries and allocating budgets.

The majority of online content by international visitors was written by travelers coming from Germany, Belgium, France and the UK. However, the Sentiment varies by nationality. The most satisfied travelers in this top 5 were the Brits and the least satisfied were the Germans.

According to our sentiment analysis, Germans mostly criticize the lack of parking availability. The majority of Germans travel to the Netherlands by car, but cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam are often more bike-friendly with less frequent parking spots available.

The Sentiment also slightly varies according to the type of travelers: couples and groups are the most satisfied about their experience in Rotterdam, while business travelers are the least.

 

3.3 – Preferred places and attractions

The highest number of reviews is unsurprisingly related to food and beverage establishments, such as bars, pubs and restaurants. However, but the highest rated places in Rotterdam are actually attractions: 90.2/100.

 

The top five most reviewed attractions are below. The Erasmusbrug, the iconic bridge of Rotterdam, is both the highest-rated and the most-reviewed point of interest.

rotterdam attractions

3.4 – The most appreciated aspects of Rotterdam travel experiences

If we dig into the online content, we quickly identify the most discussed topics – both overall and by traveler origin.

According to our analysis, the Brits recorded the highest Sentiment Score about Rotterdam in the top five countries analyzed (80.8/100), so let’s dig deeper into what they had to say.

Here are some the key insights:

  • In the F&B industry, atmosphere and food quality are the most discussed topics. Food Quality scored an impressive sentiment of 90/100.
  • When zooming in on the hospitality industry (see below), British travelers appreciate the hotel staff, food and atmosphere the most, yet complain about complain about Internet and digital services
rotterdam sentiment analysis - topics

3.5 – The most popular channels for traveler reviews

Evaluating the most popular online channels to leave a review is another important factor to better target audiences.

From Data Appeal Studio, we can easily track the most frequently-used channels for each industry.

For example, hospitality reviews are mainly left on Booking.com and Google. Yet, Hotels.com features the reviews with the highest sentiment scores.

how sentiment analysis is useful

4 – Data in action: How to take advantage of data-driven insights to improve the traveler experience and destination marketing

Collecting review and sentiment-related data is just the first step to improve the traveler experience and enhance destination marketing activities.

Once a destination has a clear overview of the information available, they can seamlessly adjust their strategy to better target the right traveler, with the right message at the right time.

Let’s take Rotterdam as an example using the data we collected above. The local DMO could take advantage of this data to:

  • Allocate a higher budget on specific countries that visit Rotterdam more frequently: Germany, Belgium, France and the UK
  • Uncover new emerging markets to target. The DMO could allocate a portion of the marketing budget to countries that have high sentiment but fewer visitors.
  • Define marketing content and messaging that is tailored to visitor types, origins, language and their most appreciated aspects and places. For example, Brits tend to appreciate food quality, so a social campaign focused on restaurants or cuisine would be more effective in the UK market. Germans complain about parking lots, so the destination could tailor marketing messages encouraging train travels.
  • Distribute online marketing investments according to specific channels. As we saw, most of the hospitality-related content was published on Booking.com. The destination could partner up with this company or launch more ads on this channel to more effectively address their visitors.
  • Improve infrastructure and services according to the amount and seasonality of travelers and their likes and dislikes. Offering free internet access across the city could greatly improve the overall sentiment about the internet in Rotterdam.
  • Educate local businesses owners and tourism operators. Offer insights and reports to better understand how to attract more visitors, improve their own marketing strategies and create better experiences.
  • Leverage the most reviewed and popular attractions, hotels and restaurants to create specific packages or design new commercials or social ads to improve the advertising ROI.
  • Take advantage of our flight data (searches, bookings and arrivals) to detect how many days in advance travelers book their flights. Define the best timing for launching new travel campaign.

There are endless ways that destination marketing and management teams can use the tourism insights from Data Appeal Studio.

5 – How to track and monitor the overall sentiment of a destination

Sentiment is not static. It’s constantly changing according to travel, cultural and social trends, political scenarios and the destination’s offer and services itself.

Moreover, gathering all the essential information to measure a destination’s reputation is a difficult challenge.

Tracking, collecting and evaluating infinite pieces of online content, published in various languages across different channels is no easy feat, and transforming this data into indexes and information to support a DMO improve their offering and stay updated is near impossible.

No human being could do it, dedicated software is needed.

That is exactly why The Data Appeal Company created Data Appeal Studio, a comprehensive, all-in-one online platform to do the hard work for destinations.

Data Appeal works with a wide variety of destinations of all sizes – towns, cities, regions and countries. We know that visitors – both domestic and international – are at the heart of all tourism destinations.

Having a dedicated platform to interpret visitor experiences, measure a destination’s sentiment, forecast future trends and share the most important KPIs with stakeholders is critical.

With Data Appeal Studio, access actionable, up-to-date insights in minutes, as we did for Rotterdam.

Curious to try Data Appeal Studio for your destination?