Agencies Capturing the Social Voice of the Traveler During Covid-19

Niraj Sharma |
 04/03/20 |
4 min read


Social listening offers crucial intel as agencies help brands create crisis plans to get clients through the next four-to-six months. Capturing the social voice of the traveler during Covid-19 is not a simple task, as it requires expert filtering to boil down the data to actual, and inevitably actionable proof points. We recently spoke with Brandon Billings, VP, Social Media & Content Strategy at MMGY Global to see how that looks!

Capturing KPIs, and even sorting out what those are as the conversation evolves, is important. And to begin to sort this out, brands need a way to harness insight to answer questions around what travelers are saying. And thanks to this virus, there’s no shortage of insight.

When we look in the NetBase product we can see the enormous volume of consumer conversation about the Coronavirus in general, along with trending topics and geographical hotspots:


Exploring travel specifically, we can see the attributes, emotions and behaviors on display, and in real-time:


Filtering the conversation to see News and Blogs captured in the Quid product, we see related themes begin to emerge:


And it’s apparent (and just well known in the industry) that the news cycle directs this conversation, as well as the sentiment across destinations.

Reporting is focused on travel restrictions, hospitalizations, travel advice and safety (from a consumer standpoint). And the corresponding consumer conversation reflects these worries, with trending conversations around cancelling travel plans, shutting things down travel and wanting to see restrictions around all forms of travel. As the reporting shifts, so too will the consumer sentiment.

This makes monitoring by brand, and by location, all the more important to those in the travel sector anywhere in the world, as the conversation is bound to change by location/destination and will remain unpredictable for quite some time.

At MMGY, they’ve been monitoring this situation globally since January. “We’re understanding a little bit more in terms of how we start to lean into our messaging cadence for clients and defining that crisis communication roadmap.” Brandon shared some considerations his team has top of mind, including how to:

·      Communicate through various phases of this crisis

·      Identify indicators to signal stronger/different approach to language

·      Capture and reconcile consumer with client standpoints, to create optimal, empathic messaging

·      Create an emotional escape for consumers that isn’t too pushy, but keeps the travel client in mind

It all starts and ends with understanding the pulse within the destination from a local, regional, state, national level. And this understanding hinges on creating an integrated plan of attack.

Creating an Integrated Plan of Attack

Mapping the flow from crisis to recovery, agencies in the know are adept at recognizing when they do not know the answers/indicators – not yet, at least. But they do know how to masterfully work with consumer and market intelligence data sets, so they’ll spot these indicators very early for their clients.

As Brandon put it, “we have to be the ability to pivot as we see movement in certain areas. We’ll start to see bookings, of course – but ahead of that, we’ll see indicators from social conversations – the voice of the traveler. They’ll share where they are mentally as they post about where they’re planning to travel once this is over. And we can see how it compares across destinations. That is valuable intel for our clients to have ahead of competitors. And it enables us to position our partners for the greatest stability, through a very smart strategic lens.”

And that lens is how they filter the noise.

Filtering Out Noise

Filtering out noise is a fairly complex process and more important than ever when handling a crisis of pandemic proportions. Agencies need the ability to boil down massive quantities of data to smaller proof points. And what’s left is extremely valuable; much more so than a larger quantity of fluff material that reveals little to move things forward.

“It’s great to see from a wide-angle lens, but what how does that translate from a hyper-focus, hyper-local, hyper destination standpoint? We’re very well positioned in this industry where we have a lot of rich data that we can then use from a cross-comparison standpoint.”

Following the news cycle, agencies need to ask – and find quick answers – to questions that change daily. Right now, some of those questions include:

·      Where is the Coronavirus?

·      How are these locations controlling it?

·      Where does potential positive sentiment start to pick up as preventive measures are put into place?

·      How does that timeframe look?


The posts uncovered may not be high in volume, but they’re impactful and essential to sorting out how – and when to move forward. The social voice of the traveler consists of personal narratives, carefully selected from various channels, with key filters and keywords applied to capture the most complete, actionable insight available.

“We’ve put a lot of time into making sure our analyses are complete. We are constantly reworking criteria to ensure we’re excluding all of the noise to get to people that are talking about either traveling to a destination, in the destination or expressing purchase intent.” From here, MMGY can identify top content angles, as well as very detailed contextual insight informing each, and doing so in real-time as well as historically.

“We match up survey-based data, with economic data, and our booking data that we have from a first-party standpoint and apply a social listening lens to it. The output is powerful. Clients are always pleased with the result.”

It’s important to note though, that brands need to worry just as much about what isn’t being said, as they are about what is being said. And understanding the context behind that insight as well. Oftentimes, what isn’t being said can be more instructive from a strategic standpoint. And we’ll touch more on that in our next post featuring Brandon and MMGY, Competitive vs Social Listening Audits for Covid-19 Response. Be sure to check back for it! And reach out​ if you’d like to see either NetBase or Quid in action!

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