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Hawaii faces a communication crisis

Interest in visiting the archipelago and bookings suffer a considerable drop despite the fact that the situation does not involve risks for tourists.

The recent eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island and, above all, the great repercussion that it is having in the media, demonstrates the importance of communication management to maintain tourists’ confidence.

Although the area affected by the eruption only covers 0,2% of Hawaii island’s territory (the biggest of the 19 islands that form the archipelago), there is a marked drop in bookings which affects the entire archipelago.

In recent weeks, Hawaiian tourism authorities have rushed to officially confirm that there’s no risk in travelling to any of the islands, and that the entire tourism sector is operating normally (flights, hotels, attractions, etc.) with the exception of two thirds of the island’s National Volcanic Park. The reality however is that over 220 million dollars in losses are already being recorded in the sector.

Flight searches for the state of Hawaii from the US west coast have fallen by 21%, and global bookings by around 10% according to the main OTAs and GDSs. The drops are much more pronounced in some specific markets. Could Hawaii have reacted earlier and in a more concrete way to mitigate the blow?

The management and correct analysis of the currently available large amount of data allows us to understand users’ perceptions, to measure different sensitivities and detect specific communication needs for each market. Thus, the Tourism Intelligence platform created by Mabrian Technologies counts with a Climate Perception index, among other KPIs, that allow to understand different sentiment patterns between markets, in the face of the same event.

Taking as an example the analysis of the more than 900 thousand tourist mentions for Hawaii registered on Social Media between 1st May and 7th June 2018, and the same period of the previous year, we can extract useful knowledge for this type of crisis management.

At first glance, we detect a drastic general fall of the Climate Perception Index (PCi), which at the same time drags the other destination’s key indexes: Tourist Product Satisfaction index (PTi), Security Perception index (PSi) and Global Satisfaction index (GTPi).

By carrying out a more specific and segmented analysis of the main origin markets for the destination, we can observe clear sensitivity differences. Thus, we see that the Canadian and British markets are the most sensitive to the event, while the Australian and American markets show a less intense reaction. For their part, the Japanese are the market that shows less concern for the situation, very possibly due to less exposure from their local media.

This sensitivity degree also indicates different confidence recovery rates, marking the need to act first and more intensely towards those who need it most. Thus, in the next graph showing the Climate Perception (PCi) temporal evolution, we can observe that, despite Canadians and Brits showing a similar degree of sensitivity, it is the latter who take more time to start confidence recovery (about 19 days).

On the other hand, the Japanese recover the confidence level to the values prior to the initial announcement of the event in just 4 days.

In such a connected environment, in which it’s impossible to control the information overflow generated by the media, it’s essential to count on advanced analysis tools that, based on available data, Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence techniques, help us to act in a more agile manner and concentrate the efforts and resources where necessary for the management of critical situations. In fact, this is the second security issue affecting tourism that Hawaii has suffered in the last six months, after the missile alert occurred last January (see related post here).

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