A word about 'social listening'
Our Insight team uses ‘social listening’ as a tool for research. Put simply, it’s about gathering data on specific topics from online conversations to allow us to capture first-hand insight from visitors and potential visitors to Scotland.
Understanding their interests and expectations, and their experiences and feedback, on topics such as 'where to stay', 'what to do' and 'how to get there' helps us to see how Scotland is viewed as a destination and to spot tourism trends too.
We use public-facing sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, as well as articles and comments in blogs, forums and review sites, to gather our social listening data. We don’t use Facebook, as it’s a private platform, and since we’re looking for unique visitor conversations, we also exclude news sites and retweets. If you’d like more information on social listening and how we use it, check out our guide to social listening.
Between 1 January and 31 December 2019 there were over 28,000 online mentions relating to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a holiday destination.
The main conversation topics we noted included people discussing castles in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, walks and wildlife in and around the area, concerts, theatre and P&J live events and also reviews of hotels.
The most popular Twitter hashtags for visits to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were #aberdeen, #scotland, #aberdeenshire, #travel, #visitaberdeen, #visitabdn, #visitscotland, #holiday, #Edinburgh and #beautifulabdn.
As the chart below shows, the main source for social listening data for this report was social media sites at 97% (51% Twitter and 46% Instagram) with Tumblr providing 2% of mentions and review sites just 1%.
Read on to find out what our social listening reveals about accommodation, visitor attractions, scenery and landscapes, events, concerts and festivals, food and drink, travel services and traveller types for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
A good quality hotel at the right price with a good range of services and pleasant staff. Every time I visit Aberdeen, I will plan to stay at this hotel.
Final thoughts on our first camping trip: I loved being outdoors and exploring a new area. We made some wonderful memories… I would do it again.
The majority of conversations about accommodation take place on social media – particularly Instagram but also Twitter.
Hotels, caravan parks and camping have the highest mentions on forums and while castles feature highly as a review topic, this doesn’t translate into an accommodation topic. Mentions reveal that visitors are looking for locations central to the city but also close to walks and activities, with comfortable rooms, a view, good WiFi connections and good service.
As the chart below show, we found that hotels are the most popular type of accommodation mentioned in online conversations about visiting Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, followed by B&B and AirBnB and then caravan parks and camping.
Thrilling Dunnottar Castle! Every time I visit I love it, no matter how windy it is!
Aberdeen Art Gallery – finally able to visit now it’s reopened since refurbishment and it’s fab!
Castles, such as Dunnottar and Balmoral, are the most popular tourist attraction mentioned in online conversations, closely followed by outdoor activities where walking along the coastline and playing golf feature regularly. Enjoying public art and visiting museums and galleries appear in 9% and 8% of mentions respectively while activities such as shopping, nightlife, distillery visits and gardens or parks each appear in less than 5% of conversations.
Popular hashtags include #aberdeenbeach, #aberdeenharbour, #aberdeengallery.
As the chart below shows, the main conversations about tourist attractions take place on Twitter (particularly for tours) and Instagram, closely followed by forums (particularly popular for conversations about shopping).
The snow and mist-covered hills and #mountains of the #Cairngorms around Braemar in beautiful #Aberdeenshire today.
More than 50% of conversations on this topic focus on nature with a further 10% on wildlife and 10% on scenic driving routes, including specific mentions of the North Coast 500, which includes Aberdeenshire.
Architecture is also a popular topic, and we noticed mentions of both the University of Aberdeen and the stained glass window at St Machars Cathedral.
As the chart shows, the majority of conversations take place on Instagram and focus on beautiful places visited – and, particularly, on scenic driving routes. Forums, however, are popular for mentions of historic landmarks and architecture with posts about what to see and do in Aberdeenshire, including specific recommendations, such as a visit to Dunnottar Castle.
A truly inspirational performance from Aberdeen Youth Musical Theatre of A Tale of Two Cities.
Our social listening reveals that events are mentioned most (78%) in online conversations and that the main conversations about events and also about festivals (10%) take place on social media sites, particularly Twitter and Instagram. Concerts are mentioned in 12% of online conversations with venues such as P&J live and His Majesty’s Theatre attracting chatter.
Aberdeen is so cozy with its pubs, life music and markets. (…) It’s more unique and you will feel that people tend to keep their traditions and culture.
Bars, pubs and cafes are the most popular food and drink topics for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, closely followed by whisky and restaurants. Conversations about vegetarian and vegan offerings as well as craft beer and gin also feature, indicating an interest in these more niche offerings.
Online conversations mainly took place on Twitter and Instagram although forums feature highly in conversations around restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes. Visitors make limited use of forums and review sites to share experiences and ask for advice.
I visited this magnificent village – Cruden Bay – a short drive from Aberdeen… it really is worth visiting if you have the opportunity.
31% of online conversations about travel services for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire focus on air travel, closely followed by 29% on rail and 22% on buses and coaches. People often look for advice on whether to fly into Aberdeen International Airport or take the train and the majority of air travel conversations take place on Twitter, with frequent mentions of flight routes.
Conversely, around 50% of conversations relating to car hire, and to bus and coach travel, take place on forums. These tend to reflect people asking for advice and checking bus routes from Aberdeen to nearby attractions.
Me, my bike and I enjoying the benefit of a tailwind pushing us north for a family visit.
I went wild camping with my dog a few weeks ago. It was ace.
At 46%, nearly half of the conversations about visiting Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire come from family travellers; people travelling with friends make up 21%. Online mentions from family travellers are steady throughout the summer months – a popular time when children are on holiday from school – with Instagram posts showing day trips to the area with family.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are strongly favoured by visitors who are interested in historical landmarks, castles, architecture and outdoor activities.
Most of the conversations about this area take place on social media sites (equally divided between Twitter and Instagram) where visitors share pictures from their trips; scenic driving routes and landscapes are particularly popular. Twitter is used mainly by visitors to ask questions about tours and also air travel to Aberdeen.
Nearly half the online mentions about visiting Aberdeen come from family travellers, especially in summer months and during school holidays. The destination is also popular among those travelling with friends.
Hotels are the most popular type of accommodation mentioned on social, followed by B&B and AirBnB. Bars, pubs and cafes are the most popular food and drink topics. Often users turn to forums to ask for advice on these topics or to share their experience and provide advice to others planning their trips.