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 almost 6,000 online mentions relating to Dumfries and Galloway as a holiday destination.
The volume of conversations fluctuates over the year, peaking between June and August when it triples compared to the January to March period. Conversations decrease as the summer holiday season ends. The main conversation topics include people sharing stories of their visits to Dumfries and Galloway and posting pictures of favourite landscapes and attractions.
People also recommend favourite spots in the area – those attracting most mentions include Galloway Forest Park, designated as the fourth Dark Sky Park in the world and the first in the UK – as well as Caerlaverock Castle, Gretna Green and Moat Brae (usually in the context of Peter Pan as the gardens here were JM Barrie’s inspiration for the ‘enchanted lands’ of his universally loved story).
The most popular Twitter hashtags for visits to Dumfries and Galloway are #scotland, #dumfriesandgalloway, #dumfries, #visitscotland, #travel, #holiday and #visitdumfriesandgalloway.
As the chart below shows, social media sites drive most conversations about Dumfries and Galloway with Instagram generating more than half at 53% and Twitter following at 38%. Several small businesses – ranging from accommodation providers and tour operators to coffee businesses – use these channels to advertise their services and attract customers by sharing images of landscapes around their facilities. Forums generate just 5% of chatter.
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 Dumfries and Galloway.
I’m planning on spending a few days cycling in Galloway… looking for B&B providers with secure bike storage as the main requirement.
The majority of conversations about accommodation take place on social media sites, forums and review sites. As hospitality businesses often advertise on social media to drive visitors to their sites, this increases conversations so chatter on review sites and forums is most representative for accommodation in Dumfries and Galloway as a topic.
As the chart above shows, self-catering, caravan parks and camping, and hotels are the most popular types of accommodation being discussed, at a combined 73%. B&B and AirBnB attract 11% of chatter while glamping, along with cabins and lodges each attract 5%.
Brilliant visit to Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum yesterday. Lots to see including a #Spitfire found in #Loch Doon – and listened to a fascinating story on the find/restoration.
The main attractions that visitors are looking for include castles and landscapes, outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing, and nature and wildlife.
Galloway Forest Park and Eskrigg Nature Reserve in Lockerbie feature highly in mentions with conversations mainly taking place on social media sites and forums. In fact, as the chart below shows, castles and outdoor activities comprise nearly 60% of the total conversations about local attractions in this area while museums and galleries, gardens and parks, combine to account for 22%.
Nature sometimes blows my mind! Visited Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland, and not only does it have beautiful landscapes but the prettiest naturally occurring crystals everywhere!
63% of the conversations we tapped into on this topic focus on landscapes and nature with people posting about walks they’ve enjoyed and amazing views they’ve seen. Scenic driving routes and inspiring architecture are also popular themes, with a number of mentions of road trips, camping in the area and striking historic castles.
The vast majority of conversations about scenery and landscapes take place on Instagram with visitors posting pictures of trips and places they’ve visited. Other social media sites attract far less chatter on scenery and landscapes although forums show a spike in conversations about architecture, usually in posts about what to see and do in the area, such as visits to the moated triangular castle of Caerlaverock.
Had a cracking time visiting #Dumfries and the #exhibition #utopia by @SocietyScotArt. I’ve got a new painting in the exhibition!
At 83%, the vast majority of conversations on this topic are about events – not surprisingly, as Wigtown is known as ‘Scotland’s National Book Town’, the Wigtown Book Festival is one of the most talked about. We found that most online chatter about events, concerts and festivals takes place on social media sites and forums.
A great trip to @annandaledistillery earlier this week. #annandaledistillery #southwestscotland #visitsouthwestscotland #visitscotland #scotland #dumfriesandgalloway #lovedandg #distillery #whisky #daysoutuk #daysout #somewhereinscotland #scottishdistillery.
As the chart below shows, 50% of conversations about food and drink revolve around bars, pubs and cafes. Social media sites, forums and review sites are all popular places for conversations about food and drink with people looking for advice and recommendations as well as sharing their own experiences.
Both Bladnoch Distillery and Annandale Distillery feature in mentions, with people posting pictures from their visits on social media.
Take a trip to Dumfries and Galloway – much of it is as spectacular as the Highlands but far less touristy and only one hour away by train from Glasgow.
Reaching Dumfries and Galloway by train – with Carlisle and Lockerbie the most commonly mentioned railway stations – is the most frequently mentioned type of travel service, followed by air and then bus and coach.
People talk about crossing the border between Scotland and England and also travelling by ferry from Cairnryan (the port village in the area) to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Conversations about travel mainly take place on forums (particularly in the case of car and vehicle hire) as well as Twitter and Instagram, as the table opposite shows.
In addition to writing about their own experiences and asking for advice, people chat about tour buses and the best routes to take to visit the south of Scotland.
Love this, particularly as the #Whithorn dig was what sparked off my interest in #archaeology. My family was among the thousands of visitors to the dig. I visited with my parents as an eight year old in 1987 and decided there and then that I wanted to become an archaeologist!
At 68%, over two thirds of the conversations about visiting Dumfries and Galloway come from family travellers; chatter from people travelling with friends comes in at a very distant second, at 11%.
Online mentions from family travellers are steady throughout the summer months – always a popular time when children are on holiday from school – with Instagram posts showing day trips to local attractions.
Our social listening indicates that Dumfries and Galloway is a popular destination for visitors interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing as well as nature, landscapes and historic castles. Self-catering accommodation, caravan parks and camping – perhaps not surprisingly given the preference for outdoor activities – are the most popular types of accommodation being discussed online.
The region is certainly a firm favourite with family groups, especially during the summer months, although people travelling with friends, a partner or spouse, or alone also find reasons to visit.
While bars, pubs and cafes are the most frequently discussed food and drink topics, both the Bladnoch Distillery and Annandale Distillery attract a number of mentions and are popular with visitors.
We discovered that most of the online chatter about Dumfries and Galloway as a holiday destination takes place on Instagram where posts show a mix of visitors sharing images of their trips and experiences on the one hand, with local businesses advertising their visitor offerings on the other.