Analyzing Sentiment & Footfall in Post-COVID Berlin


Follow along as Data Appeal uses CARTO’s Location Intelligence platform to evaluate tourism in Berlin post-COVID.

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Analyzing Sentiment & Footfall in Post-COVID Berlin

The Data Appeal Company's Hannah Babineau - International Partnerships and Marketing Manager - guest blogs for CARTO!

With summer vacation season approaching  we’ve set out to determine if and how visitor hotspots have altered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are tourists avoiding historically crowded areas? Are travelers migrating into new neighborhoods and visiting lesser-known attractions?

By leveraging geospatial data  Sentiment Scores  the Footfall Index and our Location Intelligence partners at CARTO  Data Appeal has evaluated the city of Berlin to assess if and how the most popular points of interest have changed post-Covid.

You can explore the datasets used in this piece - as well as >10 000 others - on CARTO’s Data Observatory.

Let’s rewind to 2019

The year is 2019 and Berlin is once again a top European destination – ranked third after London and Paris in attracting travelers. The German city’s popularity continues to grow  attracting 34 million overnight stays by around 14 million visitors in just 2019 alone (Source: VisitBerlin). But how have things changed since the pandemic?

Let’s get started!

To support this analysis  we conducted a complete mapping of 946 971 points of interest across greater Berlin including all points of interest relating to retail  hospitality  food and beverage  transportation and attractions.

The interactive map below  designed by Data Appeal using CARTO’s Location Intelligence platform  is able to pinpoint the most popular places  based on customer satisfaction  footfall and by source market. Location Intelligence is one of the most advanced tools for performance evaluation  outdoor (OOH) marketing campaigns and strategic site selection.

For each point of interest  users can understand:  

  • Name  industry & category
  • Address
  • Sentiment Score (overall and by category)
  • Footfall Index (Popularity and foot traffic rating)
  • Service/product price range  facilities/amenities and more
  • Historic data from 2019 to present day

Open the map in a new window (ideal for mobile devices) here.

Throughout this analysis  we have uncovered four trends that are debunking what we thought we knew about post-COVID tourism.

Trend 1: Alexanderplatz records major increases in 2022

Despite the warnings to avoid large groups  travelers to Berlin can’t stay away from Alexanderpatz  the iconic public square in the city center. In fact  the Sentiment Score and Footfall Index have both increased from 79.42 to 86.99 and 60.15 to 109.05 respectively (January 2019 to 2022). When taking a deeper look  we found that this hotspot is most appreciated for its prime location  proximity to other attractions and services available in the nearby vicinity (public transportation  restrooms  etc.).

While these changes may appear minor at first  they are indeed significant. The 7 percentage point increase in Footfall is noteworthy  especially in a time where people are still cautious about gathering in large crowds. However  if there’s a silver lining to the pandemic  it’s that it has inspired travelers to get out and explore.

Trend 2: A need for green: Monbijou Park surpasses the Neptune Fountain as local hangout

While the Neptune Fountain  or Neptunbrunnen for the locals  has always been a must see  the impact of Covid has given both locals and tourists a new appreciation for green space and a moment to relax.

In fact  in January 2019  the Neptune Fountain was one of the top hangouts with a staggering Footfall Index of 99.9 and Sentiment of 84.4. However  the tables turned as a result of the pandemic  when people set out to escape the crowds and enjoy some fresh air. While people still passed by the Neptune Fountain  they continued their stroll to the Monbijou Park  a nearby public greenspace. Though Sentiment has improved thus far in 2022 (86.7)  the Neptune Fountain records a 4.2 percentage point decline with a Footfall Index of 95.7.

However the Monbijou Park reveals a different story. Whilst in January 2019 it had a high Footfall score of 95.19. Fast forward to January 2021 the Footfall increases to 97.6.  Spring forward to 2022 and the park is one of the hot-spots in Berlin  with a Footfall Index of 96.4. It seems that visitors have embraced the proverbial stop and smell the flowers.

Trend 3: Businesses Close and Sentiment Shifts

The third trend we detected was a shift in Sentiment across districts  especially Pankow to the north (+1 increase)  Mitte in the center (-1 decrease)  and Tempelhof and Schonberg to the south (-3.4 decrease).

Additionally  one staggering decrease is in the amount of active points of interest. Business across hospitality  food and beverage  retail and attractions have had to close down as a result of the pandemic as evidenced by the decrease in Points of Interest from 4 858 in Feb. 2019 to 3 793 in Feb. 2022.


Trend 4: Sentiment & Footfall hotspots

As part of the advanced functionality of CARTO’s Analytics Toolbox  we have access to the Getis-Ord spatial statistic tool. This tool allows for the identification of statistically significant hot and cold spots - i.e. areas where high and low values are clustered. This is a fantastic way of understanding and comparing spatial patterns within data.

In order to use Getis-Ord  the footfall and sentiment data for Berlin was aggregated by average to a H3 grid using CARTO’s enrich grid tool (find more about this here). H3 grids are a type of global hierarchical grid  a hexagonal zoning system which covers the entire world at multiple resolutions. These allow for incredibly fast and efficient analytics of big data. If this is the first you’re hearing about global hierarchical grids  read our blog post about them here - they’ll change the way you think about geography!

Explore the hotspot map below (mobile users may prefer to open full screen here) - pink values indicate presence of a hot spot whilst green indicate a low spot. Gray areas indicate there is no real clustering in either direction. The map on the left shows spatial clusters of footfall whilst the map on the right explores sentiment.

Open the map in a new window (ideal for mobile devices) here.

Predictably  high values of footfall cluster around Mitte and regional centers such as Güntzelkiez and Wrangelkiez. Conversely  green cold spots typically appear further from the city center. Spatial trends of sentiment are much more difficult to draw conclusions from. Whilst many clusters of high and low sentiment values do exist  these clusters are typically much smaller with trends much more localized. Areas without significant clustering are much more ubiquitous. It does not appear that there is any clear spatial relationship between footfall and sentiment. To further explore this  analysts could employ spatial statistics such as Geographically Weighted Regression which models the local variation between multiple variables.

CARTO & Data Appeal: The best of both worlds

In partnering with CARTO  Data Appeal’s datasets and proprietary KPIs can be accessed through CARTO’s user-friendly Location Intelligence platform  enabling organizations to use a range of data and bespoke spatial data science tools from CARTO’s Analytics Toolbox to undertake the following types of analysis:

  • Site & Distributor Selection: Strategize store or product placements
  • Market Expansion: Qualify ideal locations for their target audience
  • Competitive Intelligence: Perform accurate benchmarking and competitor analysis on points of interest and locations

Among the top KPIs used by some of the market’s biggest retail conglomerates and tourism destinations  are the Footfall Index and Sentiment Score.

The Footfall Index is an indicator - both available as ranked and absolute - calculated by online content  satellite data and aggregated mobility signals based on the selected time period. This KPI is provided both as an overall score and time of day breakdown to highlight peak and off-peak times. The Footfall Index is 100% GDPR compliant and can be applied to any Point of Interest or territory as granular as 500x500 meters.

Meanwhile  the Sentiment Score measures the level of satisfaction expressed by users online about a service  product  experience or territory. In detail  we semantically analyze geo-located online content from over 130 sources to accurately define the true customer perception and pinpoint what influences purchasing behaviors of current and future buyers to evaluate the value of any POI or territory.  

Ready to see our Location Intelligence platform in action? Get started by requesting a live demo today!