Twitter - the secret weapon of the modern day traveller

  • 65% of assistance requests concern tourist activities and trip organisation
  • 30% of tweets directly target tourism professionals and insist on the quality of the provided service 
  • Travel-related assistance requests come from the most active Tweeters* (950 followers on average) 

While Twitter counts more than 200 million active users and 400 million tweets per day** worldwide, Allianz Global Assistance, international leader in assistance and travel insurance, has launched the first global observatory for Twitter usage and requests linked to travel. 

During this observatory, known as #HELPME, more than 25,000 tweets were collected in the month of March 2013. A subsequent analysis of a representative sample of these tweets enabled observers to identify and measure characteristic behaviours of « travelling » Tweeters.

« Each year we help millions of travellers prepare for their trip, enjoy it as much as they can and return in the best possible conditions. As an assistance company, we thought it was a good time to take a closer look at user behaviour on social media channels, and on Twitter in particular in mobile situations. The development of these channels has led to new usages: new ways to travel, new interactions, new uses for Smartphones, new expectations, new rhythms. The #HELPME observatory highlights the new behaviours of certain avant-garde travellers who are probably the precursors of tomorrow’s mainstream lifestyles,» declares Rémi Grenier, CEO and President of Allianz Global Assistance.

Twitter, the traveller’s megaphone

Emergency assistance requests are extremely rare, and only a few requests concern less serious travel problems such as visas, money, luggage or contacting an embassy. 7% of requests concern reimbursement for an airline ticket, and to a lesser degree, medical expenses. Twitter is mostly used to help organise a trip and to ask typical tourist advice. In fact 38% of Tweeters trust their network to choose a destination, a place to visit, or an activity to do when they arrive. 26% use Twitter to help with the logistics of their travel plans (choosing a hotel, calculating travel costs, etc.)

Twitter essential for Travel Professionals

Overall, one third of all analysed tweets directly address tourism and travel professionals (airline companies, tour operators, 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. Twitter enables longer, better listening to users so as to provide them with continuously improved service quality. 
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 it’s difficult to say if all of these responses were satisfactory. The best way to obtain a response is to point your question directly to an identified contact. Effectively 46% of tweets receive a response if they are sent to a particular person or company (@MyFriendPaul). 

Portrait of travelling Tweeters 

People who use Twitter to ask for help before they leave, while they are travelling or when they return are people who are very accustomed to using the network. With an average of nearly 1,000 followers, they largely exceed the basic Tweeter with 50 « friends ». On Twitter, as in real life, you can only really count on your friends, and it’s better to ask 100 people for help than 50. In fact, 42% of travelling Tweeters only send their tweets for requests-for-help to their followers. 

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 plan to continue to analyse how social networking impacts our different sectors of activity (automobile, health, home…) so that we can truly understand the issues and needs and then propose to social networkers innovative services that are adapted to their new lifestyles and consumption behaviours, » Rémi Grenier concludes.

Ranking of most frequently asked questions:

  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? »


The Observatory was realised by The Metrics Factory for Allianz Global Assistance from a list of potential situations for which a travelling social networker might request assistance on Twitter. The Metrics Factory semantically constructed English expressions that corresponded to these situations. In March of 2013 more than 25,000 tweets corresponding to these studied situations were collected. A representative sample of these tweets were then manually analysed in order to determine their nature and relevance and to measure the different trends.

* Tweeters are Twitter users

** Figures communicated by Twitter in October 2012

About Allianz Global Assistance 

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International leader in assistance, travel insurance and health, life & home care services, today Allianz Global Assistance counts more than 12 171 employees who speak 40 different languages and work throughout the world with a network of 400,000 service providers and 118 correspondents covering 150 countries. 250 million people, or 4% of the world’s total population, benefit from its services, which the Group provides on all five continents.

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