Twitter: The Secret Weapon of the Modern Day Traveller

With Twitter counting more than 200 million active users and 400 million tweets per day* worldwide, Allianz Global Assistance, international leader in assistance and travel insurance, has conducted a detailed review** of how Twitter is being used and requests linked to travel to identify and measure characteristic behaviours of travelling Tweeters.

Every year, Allianz Global Assistance provides medical assistance and travel insurance to millions of travellers across the globe, offering valuable support in the event of an emergency. But as the popularity of social media channels grows, so does the need to better understand its importance in supporting travellers and the travel industry as a whole,” explains Lee Taylor, Chief Sales Officer of Allianz Global Assistance UK.

Twitter, the traveller’s megaphone
The research revealed that whilst general tweets for assistance appear to be relatively commonplace, emergency assistance requests are extremely rare. Requests concerning less serious travel problems such as visas, money, luggage or contacting an embassy were also rare. 7% of requests concern matters such as reimbursement for an airline ticket, and to a lesser degree, medical expenses. The reality is that Twitter is mostly used to help organise a trip and to ask typical tourist advice. In fact 38% of Tweeters ask their network for recommendations regarding a destination, a place to visit, or an activity to do when they arrive at their destination. 26% use Twitter to help organise their travel plans (choosing a hotel, calculating travel costs, etc.)

Twitter essential for communicating with Travel Professionals
Overall, one third of all tweets analysed are directed at tourism and travel professionals, for example airline companies, tour operators and hotels. These tweets primarily ask for advice or for help to resolve a problem. Although Twitter is not yet a mainstream channel for communicating with professionals, it’s becoming more and more of one every day.


To receive a response, it’s best to tweet a precise contact
On average, one third of the tweets that were analysed received at least one response, but the research was inconclusive as to whether or not all of these responses were satisfactory. However, analysis did report that 46% of tweets receive a response if they are sent to a particular person or company for example, @my_friend_Paul.
Only 20% use # (hashtags) to send a general tweet that can be identified by one or more key words (#HELPME; #PARIS or even #LOST).

 “We will continue to analyse how social networking affects the different markets we work in – travel, automobile, health and home assistance - so that we can truly understand the issues and needs of those who embrace social media to support their daily life. With millions of active users on Twitter, Facebook and other emerging social network platforms, now is the time to explore how we can innovatively enhance the communication process both in terms of general advice and in the longer term, supporting a travel assistance or medical assistance scenario,” concludes Lee Taylor.

The most frequently asked travel questions on Twitter:
Question Subject Matter Example of Question
1. Find an activity. ”What’s there to see in Stockholm?”
2. Ask for advice when organising a trip. “Should I go to Bermuda or Corsica to scuba dive?”
3. How do I get reimbursed for an airline ticket? “I missed my plane, how do I get my money back?”
4. Find directions. “Do I turn right or left for the Eiffel Tower?”
5. Find a place to sleep. “Looking to spend the night in London. Where should I go?”
6. Exchange rate. “Does anyone know the value of 1000 Bolivar in Japanese Yen?”
7. What to do tonight? Anyone have an idea about something fun to do in London tonight?”
8. Find a hotel. “I need help finding a nice, inexpensive hotel in Buenos Aires…”
9. Choose a destination for the next trip. “I have $500 for a two-week holiday. Any ideas where I can go?” 
10.The eternal visa problem. “Do I need a visa to go to Paraguay?”

* Figures communicated by Twitter in October 2012

** The research was conducted by The Metrics Factory for Allianz Global Assistance by creating a list of potential situations for which a travelling social networker might request assistance on Twitter and then collecting approximately 25,000 tweets corresponding to these situations. A representative sample of these tweets were then analysed in order to determine which situations were most commonly discussed on Twitter.