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ARMONK, N.Y., - 27 May 2011: An IBM (NYSE: IBM) analysis of blog posts, Tweets, news sites and other social media in the United States indicates that fewer travelers expect to cancel their Memorial Day Holiday trips this year compared with last year – despite the dramatic rise in the price of gas during the past six months.
During the project, conducted by IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services, analytics software was used to scan thousands of publicly-available social media postings relating to travel and Memorial Day. The analysis focused on two six month periods -- November 20 to May 20 in 2010 and 2011. The analysis – which identified more than 11,500 individual references to travel and Memorial Day revealed that 1.6 percent of posts in the 2011 period referenced cancelling Memorial Day trips versus 2.8 percent in 2010.
Further analysis indicates that in 2010, with fuel cost hovering in the mid- to upper- $2.00 range, online Memorial Day references tended to focus on the overall cost of travel, which included driving, hotels and entertainment. In 2011, the Memorial Day references centered on the holiday itself. Interestingly, references to gas prices in 2011 have been not substantially higher than in 2010.
"As a marketplace of ideas and opinions, the Web can appear raucous and chaotic at times – but there is insight contained in all that data," said Kerrie Holley, IBM Fellow and Chief Technology Officer of IBM Global Business Services. "A better understanding of what people are saying online can help retailers, hoteliers, transportation officials and others with the extremely complicated process of forecasting demand."
The following "topic clouds" for 2010 and 2011 illustrate the shifting popularity of topics relating to Memorial Day revealed by the IBM analysis of social media:
A real-time understanding of the issues that are concerning travelers is extremely useful in helping businesses on a wide range of important tasks – from pricing to advertising.
For more information about business analytics, visit www.ibm.com/bao
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