Quick Takes on Travel: Part IX


From measuring traveler sentiment to elevating brands to top of mind, Brandon Billings, VP, Social Media & Content Strategy, explains how social media is a natural connector between data and the human element. Read his quick takes below and click here for even more in-depth research, insights and webinars.

In social media, how do you process volumes of information to identify traveler sentiment?

We use Netbase as a social-listening platform. The tools that are built in can filter down to that true traveler voice, based on the natural language that people are using. Something we’re definitely seeing right now across all social is a shift: People were frustrated because they had to alter plans, but now they’re talking about the joy of being able to travel again.

Does that involve actively searching for certain terms or do they emerge from social listening?

It’s set up with macro to micro level of filtering. Say we’re looking at California, Florida and Illinois, we’ll look at all conversations happening around those state-based keywords and we’ll layer in travel-specific vernacular. We can have travel strings that are several filters deep to weed out the noise. Because it’s not the mass you’re looking for; it’s key insights and nuggets that you can uncover to really understand what’s happening.


 How do you identify what is *not* being said on social media to find the gaps in messaging?

As an example, we did a social media audit for Travel Texas and used listening as a key element. We noticed people weren’t talking a lot about national parks, which is core element to build on. We developed a whole content series to enter them into the conversation and drive visitation across the state. For Rhode Island, we weren’t seeing much fall-related or road-trip mentions, so we started to build programming across all elements of content.

How do you stay on top of social media trends without adding to the noise?  

Social has to be human and it has to have an authentic voice. We have to be nimble, we have to be fast. For a lot of our clients, we identified that when people couldn’t travel they still wanted edutainment. So we looked at building content based on what we know is available in order to stay top of mind. We worked with local chefs to create beautiful content, and we thought about it from an integrated standpoint across social and PR.

How are messaging strategies changing in the time of COVID-19?

From a brand perspective it’s about being transparent. We’re seeing a lot of messaging about what safety protocols are in place to ensure the safety of guests and everybody around them. Social-media users are savvy and can see through stuff fast. Social is also the only medium that people can instantly give you a response whether they like or dislike it, so you have to be able to react quickly and have levers in place.

 Is there a fear of people losing trust in social media?

Elements of all media outlets are being questioned today, and everybody is questioning where they’re getting their sources from. I think social is just naturally that first layer where people go and have conversations. For a time, social was the Wild West but as the platform grew we moved to a more controlled environment with checks and balances to ensure accuracy of information.