A word about 'social listening'
Our Insight team uses ‘social listening’ as a tool for research. 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’. This 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 14,000 online mentions relating to the Orkney Islands as a holiday destination. July was the busiest month with 7% more mentions than August, the second busiest month, possibly reflecting heightened interest during school holidays.
The main conversation topics we noted included people sharing pictures and experiences from a trip to the Orkney Islands, particularly iconic sites such as the Ring of Brodgar and the Yesnaby Cliffs. Many people also mention that a trip to the Orkney Islands is on their bucket list!
The most popular Twitter hashtags for visits to the Orkney Islands were #Orkney followed by #Visitorkney, #Scotland, #Visitscotland, #Scotlandisnow, #holiday, #travel, #Kirkwall, #islands, and #archipelago.
As the chart above shows, the main source for social listening data for this report was social media at 95% (54% Twitter and 41% Instagram). Forums provided 3% while review sites such as TripAdvisor provided 1% as did Tumblr.
Read on to find out what our social listening reveals about accommodation, visitor attractions, events, concerts and festivals, food and drink, travel services and traveller types for the Orkney Islands!
Just camped in the garden of the Standing Stones Hotel. Epic! We were given a free meal and pint and the offer of a shower this morning.
After checking in at the camping site, I’m just right for viewing the setting sun lighting up the cliffs of the Orkney Islands at the horizon.
Although accommodation businesses in Orkney use social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram to promote their services, our analysis of conversations around accommodation focused on forums and review sites, where we found the highest percentage of visitor conversations. We discovered that hotels (40%) are the most popular type of accommodation followed by caravan parks and camping (35%) as shown in the chart below.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of visiting the 5,000 year old Skara Brae in Orkney and the best thing about this time of year is getting it all to yourself.
The incredible built and natural heritage found in Orkney, from the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar to the exquisite Italian Chapel, and from the Standing Stones at Stenness to the Old Man of Hoy and Skara Brae means that visitors are spoilt for choice in terms of historical landmarks – the most popular visitor attractions at 35%.
Outdoor activities are popular too, at 31%, with people experiencing the views at Ring of Brodgar gaining the most mentions. 6% of visitors talked about visiting distilleries too (Orkney is the site of the world-famous Highland Park whisky distillery and the Islands also boast a number of gin distilleries and local breweries) while 11% mentioned visiting parks and other outdoor spaces.
90% of conversations about attractions take place on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram, with tourists sharing images of trips and places they’ve visited.
Enjoyed many visits during our two months on Orkney, the flower festival was spectacular.
Our social listening reveals that the main conversations about events and concerts take place on Twitter, while conversations about festivals take place predominantly on Instagram. The most talked about events were Hogmanay (31 December) in Stromness, the Orkney Nature Festival (11 – 20 May 2019) and the Orkney Storytelling Festival (24 – 27 October).
Coastal drama, standing stones and fine whisky. Just some of the things to love about Orkney!
What an amazing visit to Orkney! Major bonus that there are three brilliant gin makers here too.
At 61%, conversations revolving around gin and whisky are the most prevalent, with bars, pubs and cafes clocking in at just 17% of the conversations around food and drink in Orkney. Visitors enjoy sharing their experiences of visiting distilleries online and also add positive reviews of distillery tours. A number of visitors compliment the various gins and whiskies they’ve sampled during their visit!
I’m wanting advice on trips to Orkney from Inverness… there seems to be several companies offering trips that leave at the same time? How many operators are there and how do I choose?
We travelled on Orkney Ferries to Sanday and Hoy (twice because it is so special!) and were impressed by the friendliness and courtesy of the crews and the efficiency and reliability of the service.
When visitors take to review sites and forums to ask questions about travel services, travelling by ferry seems to be the main conversational topic with requests for itinerary advice a common theme.
Where Orkney is part of a bigger trip, we noted many people asking how best to spend their time in the Islands and we also noted a number of questions, particularly in forums, about local tour groups. One visitor helpfully recommended: “When in Orkney, explore the islands with your car.”
I was lucky to work regularly on Hoy and surrounding area 15 year ago and can’t wait to go back for my first trip with my wee family.
As indicated in the chart below, during 2019, families and people travelling with a partner or spouse made up the majority of visitors at 63%. Most types of traveller (except those travelling with a partner or spouse) increase their conversations during the summer months with conversations focusing around travelling with family, followed by travelling with friends.
Conversations from people travelling with a partner or spouse were most popular during October.
Listening to online conversations about the Orkney Islands, it’s clear that the region is a favourite for visitors looking for nature, wild landscapes and historical landmarks. It’s a destination that appeals especially to those travelling with families and partners.
Twitter is the first port of call for visitors sharing their opinions and asking questions about Orkney. Questions about historical landmarks are popular as are questions about ferry itineraries – the main form of transport to the islands.
Caravan parks are one of the most popular choices of accommodation in the Orkney Islands, coming a close second to hotels. This is to be expected with visitors wanting to be close to nature and to enjoy the islands’ wild landscapes.
Gin and whisky distilleries are trending topics for this region. Visitors include distillery visits as part of their holiday planning and seek information online.
After their holiday, visitors like to share their experiences on Twitter and also on review sites such as TripAdvisor. This becomes a useful source of information for potential visitors who rely on the opinion and advice of others when planning their own trips.