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The strength of demand to visit a destination: the Share of Searches Index

The volume of global flight searches has dropped.  To identify the best recovery opportunities, once restrictions are lifted, Mabrian Technologies offers an indicator to measure the relative demand level from any source market to a destination.

The crisis caused by the pandemic had a negative impact on visitors’ inflows and on the amount of available tourist data and statistics that were normally used to monitor tourism trends. Air capacity, flight searches and bookings, tourist comments on social networks, card spend, etc., are just some examples of Big Data and Tourism Intelligence data available on tourism platforms, such as Mabrian’s. Most innovative destinations (Intelligent Tourist Destinations or Smart Destinations) have been managing large amount of information, such as the above, for years to make more informed decisions. These destinations have been seeking sustainable development objectives and they have ensured that highly satisfied tourists can also be value creators for the local economy.

The information needs of tourism managers have changed due to the impact of low or no tourism activity with high uncertainty levels. There is a high demand for new indicators that can offer aggregated updated information for best recovery outcomes. An example of these types of indicators is the Share of Searches Index proposed by Mabrian. This indicator measures the global competitive position of a tourist destination for a specific source market and its year-on-year evolution. This index is based on the total volume of spontaneous flight searches to a destination from a market compared to the total flight searches from this market to any destination in the world. The market share of a destination is calculated out of one million flight searches made from a country or origin.

This indicator can help answer questions as relevant as: has my destination seen a decline in inspirational demand from any of the main source markets? Do source markets prefer other destinations? Which markets have the greatest potential for recovery? When can the most relevant demand patterns be identified?

In other words, demand and total volume of flight searches to any destination have decreased immensely on a global scale. Therefore, we analyse how what currently remains of inspirational demand evolves in a relative way, to anticipate tourist patterns to plan for recovery. This knowledge can be key for operational decisions in order to better focus the recovery of the tourism industry from tourism marketing, promotion and investments, to commercial and revenue management decisions.

Let’s look at a practical example of how Valencian Institute of Tourism Technologies (Invat · tur), one of the most innovative entities in Spain in terms of the use of information for decision-making, is using this information.

If we analyse, for example, the demand to the Valencia Airport between May and July 2020 to visit the Valencian Community in August 2020, we observe that the Italian and the British markets showed a similar negative growth rate of the total volume of flight searches compared to 2019, (-80.2% and -82.1% respectively).

Searches Index Valencia Mabrian

On the other hand, looking at the Share of Searches Index, we see that the Italian market shows a much higher relative interest growth than the British one. Specifically, while the British market shows an increase in its Share of Searches to Valencia by less than 2 searches per million, the Italian market shows a surge of 12 searches per million. This does not mean that a higher percentage of Italians than Britons will visit the Valencian Community. But it does mean that the Italian market has a greater potential for recovery in the short term for the destination, becoming a clear target for the Valencian Community to reactivate visits.

These trends can occur for a variety of reasons, which are often not directly related to the destination. The healthcare and political situation in the country of origin, the Security Perception Index, flight prices (exchange rates), etc. Without question, it is key to detect trends as soon as possible in order to identify opportunities and threats in order to adapt decisions to the context.

This information is complemented with deep knowledge of a destination and its environment. Big Data analysis platforms and Tourism Intelligence can offer this information through the cross-analysis of other data sources (online media perceptions, prices, air connectivity, accommodation offer, spend, etc.). A holistic real-time tourism observatory allows tourism managers to reduce uncertainty and to take informed decisions about when and where to invest resources to achieve a more agile recovery and a more direct return (ROI).