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Keeping better track of “digital breadcrumbs” along tourist paths

April 13, 2023

Ilona Pezenka from the Marketing & Sales Management Study Programs at FHWien der WKW presented a social media analysis of the Montafon tourism region in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In addition to geodata, comments and likes from around 20,000 Instagram posts were also evaluated.  The results show that the advertising message of the Vorarlberg region “Real mountains. Real experiences.” has been experienced as authentic by travelers and is being shared on social media.

Travelers are leaving a trail of “digital breadcrumbs”

The digitization of the tourism industry is well advanced. Many travelers use online tools and social media to plan their stay, get information before and during their trip, book their accommodation or transportation. Finally, they share their experiences with others via various social media platforms. By doing so, tourists leave a trail of “digital breadcrumbs” – often in real time. This amount of available data is becoming a valuable source for both the tourism industry and researchers to analyze tourism flows. For example, by using location-based social network data, potential cases of overtourism and other problematic trends can be identified early.

Research follows new path in social media

Previous research merely followed the “digital breadcrumbs” and did not include users’ interactions on social networks. The study presented by Ilona Pezenka at the ENTER23 e-Tourism Conference attempts to paint a more comprehensive picture of travel patterns and the attractiveness of destinations. Together with Christian Weismayer and Katharina Ladurner (both Modul University Vienna), she analyzed around 20,000 Instagram posts related to the Montafon Valley (#MeinMontafon) for the case study. In doing so, the researchers collected and evaluated not only the travelled tourist paths, but also the number of comments and likes on the visitors’ posts.

Many digital paths lead to successful analysis

The results published in the conference proceedings show that travelers were motivated above all to visit mountain ranges and high mountain lakes in the Montafon region and shared these experiences on social media. Thus, the travel experience communicated by tourists coincides with the Montafon advertising message “Real mountains. Real experiences.” As in the mountains, many paths lead to the destination in tourism research. For example, the method presented by Christian Weismayer, Ilona Pezenka and Katharina Ladurner can open new ways in social media for classic tourism flow analyses.

The article “Social Media-Based Tourist Flow Weighting” on the presented case study is published in the conference proceedings “ENTER 2023: Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2023” and can be found as Open Access here.