Is Despacito Really Impacting Tourism for Puerto Rico?

Last month we went big on search trends.

And by big, I mean BIG.

First we looked at whether the latest Miley Cyrus track was influencing people to book a holiday to Malibu.

Then we analysed Game of Thrones-related search trends.

Which, as a big fan of the show, was a personal favourite of mine.

This month, we’re getting back to pop tunes and holidays, after hearing another catchy song referencing a faraway, dreamy, exotic location.

Puerto Rico.

Guessed the song?

To be honest, you’d probably have to be living under a rock to have not heard the recently remixed version of “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber.

The Spanish-infused single has been at number one in the Official UK Singles Chart for 10 weeks now, and with over 3 billion views, it’s now the most watched YouTube video of all time.

So when you hear the line in the chorus, “this is how we do it down in Puerto Rico”, you can be certain that millions of other people have heard it too.

But the question is, has the song influenced these people’s search behaviour?

I simply had to find out.

So what have other people had to say on the matter? 

Before conducting my own research, I decided to take a look and see if other people have already written about this topic.

It’s possible. After all, the track first charted in the UK at the end of April.

I found a number of conflicting reports.

First of all, this Huffington Post article claims searches for flights to Puerto Rico have increased, citing information from the likes of, Hopper and Kayak.

However, this report in the Washington Post argues that there is no evidence to suggest that Despacito is driving a tourism boom in Puerto Rico, despite the notion that flight searches on actual travel websites may have increased.

I decided to do my own research – using the ever reliable Google Trends.

What does the actual data suggest? 

First I typed in “flights to Puerto Rico”, and selected UK data.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot to suggest this song has boosted interest. In fact, interest is actually in a decline at around the time of release in mid-March.

There is a big spike in June, but this could be down to the new that Puerto Rico voted to become the 51 State in America. Or it could just be a summer thing.

I have no idea why the rest of the UK have a problem with this tune but restricting trends to England-only searches shows this …

A spike occurred in the exact week of the song’s UK release.

It was quite short lived, with the figures tanking a week later.

Here’s how England compares to the full UK view:

So, has Despacito directly affected tourism? 

Despite this data, it’s hard to argue with the Washington Post article, which says the tourism industry hasn’t actually been affected by the song.

There are clearly more people interested in flights and holidays to the area. But no more than usual are actually booking anything.

So what about flights in general? Here’s how Puerto Rico compares to Cuba, and Barbados since January this year:

Almost no impact whatsoever.

If you look at the same graph for 2016, you get this:

Looks like the interest was slightly higher last year … before the original song was even released.


A Warning Sign to Marketers Considering Trends-Based Content

Just because a song becomes the most viewed in YouTube history, doesn’t mean there’s an opportunity to market off the back of it.

Of course, the word “Despacito” is in the air this year. Base any of your marketing on it and (the right) people will make the connection.

But there’s nothing concrete here to say the song ought to influence how you plan your content this summer.

In contrast, the song “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus, has influenced search interest for the area and the data is a lot more difficult to contest.

Take a look for yourself here (the blog post includes seven smart ways for travel brands to use a trend like this to their advantage).

We wish we could give you another seven in this report – but you’d be unwise to follow our advice this time around…

Be careful out there.


August 10, 2017|

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