The value of metadata – the most Instagrammed tourist attractions globally

Once upon a time, the concept of metadata was a foreign one. Today it enables and empowers almost everything.

paparazzi photographers flash cameras
Credit: Wikipedia

Edward Snowden’s revelations about federal interception of private electronic transmissions started to build public awareness about the concept of “metadata.” The simple concept suddenly has people thinking about the data relating to the data they are generating and sharing—and the insights that could be gleaned from that.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from online travel company TravelBird asking me whether I was interested in a report detailing some metadata analysis they had done on Instagram posts. The pitch intrigued me for a few reasons: first, I’m interested in the insights that data can generate. Second, I’m a huge proponent of travel and traveling experiences as life-changing events. Third, I’m a big fan of using Instagram to document my travels, running and nature experiences (if you’re so inclined, feel free to check out my feed here.)

TravelBird released a study which ranks 470 popular global attractions and measures their relative Instagram coverage. An analysis of Instagram tags helped TravelBird generate this report. It is, of course, valuable to the travel industry which can use it for developing offerings and the like. TravelBird analyzed popular attractions in 10 different counties and created a master ranking comparing 400 of the world’s most popular tourist destinations based on their Instagram presence.

“This study offers a compelling overview of hundreds of destinations that are beloved by Instagram users for their cultural heritage, their stunning natural beauty and their local charm,” states Symen Jansma, Founder of TravelBird. “Alongside this, the data also tells a fascinating story about the ways people are traveling in 2017, offering valuable insights for the travel and tourism industry.”

And the results? The list of 15 is below, but, spoiler alert, perhaps unsurprisingly man-made locations take out the top three slots, with Disneyland, the Eiffel Tower and Walt Disney World sharing the podium. Happily, at least for this nature lover, some natural attractions make the top 15 including Florida’s South Beach, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

While interesting for its own sake, this report is yet another example of just how much can be gleaned from metadata. Now all TravelBird needs to do is cross-reference those results to the different itineraries that people use on their travels, the sort of accommodation they stay at and the meals they eat. From all of that, they can create some targeted and customized offers. And we thought that all we were doing was sharing photos…

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