Television

Indian consumers prefer holiday abroad this festive season

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MUMBAI: A new IBM Social Sentiment analysis of 250,000 online conversations reveals the travel preferences of Indian consumers – which point to consumer interest and enthusiasm for spending holidays abroad. The preferred international holiday destination for 2013 is London and preferred domestic holiday destination is Goa.

According to the latest IBM Social Sentiment analysis, travel and hospitality was trending as high as 33 percent of all social conversation tracked, indicating a particularly high volume of discussions about flying, driving and vacation with family and friends, among others. The IBM "Desire Ratio" - the proportion of positive versus negative comments – indicates that 59 percent of people are "looking forward" to taking vacation this December.

Diving deeper into the social dialogue, ‘destinations’ emerged as the dominant theme being discussed. Positive sentiment associated with ‘luxury destinations’ also showed a huge surge. People’s choices for travel and vacation destinations primarily revolved around service and experience, while price was a key driver when it comes to hospitality and travel agents.

In the era of Big Data, amidst the explosion of social media, measuring public sentiment through social listening can help travel industry chief marketing officers tap real time trends and customize incentives and services to be more in tune with what customers are asking for, using data to tailor their offerings to address fast-moving trends and real time customer needs.

“Measuring social sentiment has the potential to enable the travel industry to design travel offers and services tailored to what travelers are telling us," said Dr Lata Iyer, Partner, Global Business Services, IBM India & South Asia. "Big data has the power to offer new insights to the travel industry including airlines, hotels and other travel providers that can translate customer desires into irresistible offers that they will welcome."

The IBM Social Sentiment Index combines sophisticated analytics and natural language processing technologies to gauge consumer public opinions from Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media. In this instance, the Index was used to measure and understand consumer views around the holiday travel season in the India from the period of September 1 – December 12 in 2013.

Additional insights from the IBM Social Sentiment Index for holiday travel include:

·Top travel preference - International destinations received the most buzz (32 percent) on all social media channels. London is the most mentioned destination city, while Thailand emerged as the most recurring country in social conversations.

·Preferred Indian cities - Goa is the ‘buzziest’ travel destination in India, followed by Delhi-Agra-Jaipur and Golden-Temple. Taj Mahal followed by Golden-Temple is top most mentioned monuments in social media content. Beaches and palaces are top places to visit on people’s vacation agendas. Kerala tops the charts for being the top trending state in India.

·Luxury travel drives positivity- Luxury establishments garnered both very high affinity with positive sentiments and highest proportion of positive sentiments.

·Up in the air on air travel - For a mode of transportation air travel has highest proportion of negative sentiments.

The wealth of online content around travel from public conversations on social media has become very influential in how people determine their travel plans. Understanding the positive, neutral and negative nuances of their conversations and who is influential can help airlines, hoteliers and other travel service providers market better products and services to their customers.

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