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Social media point to fewer people canceling Memorial Day travel

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An IBM analysis, relying on an unusual surveying method, has concluded that fewer Americans are canceling their travel plans this Memorial Day weekend.

Instead of taking a survey of a select group of people, IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services used analytics software to gauge what Americans were saying about Memorial Day on social media postings over a six-month period.

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By scouring through 2.5 billion tweets, blog updates and other online posts, IBM found 11,500 references to travel and Memorial Day in 2011. Of those social media posts, 1.6% discussed canceling holiday travel, compared with 2.8% of the online comments about canceling trips for the weekend in 2010.

The survey of online posts found that comments about gas prices in 2011 were not substantially higher than in 2010, even though gas prices are now about $1 per gallon higher.

IBM is promoting the technology as a way to forecast market demands for such businesses as retailers, hotels and airlines.

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