COVID-19 and Guest Engagement Analysis in the Entertainment Industry: towards an Integrated Approach


Authors: Barbara Antonucci, Andrea Ciceri, Nicole Cutrufo, Courtney Riall Mallory, Giulia Songa.


The present paper outlines the results of research on user engagement with theme park online contents and carries on an evaluation of the marketing strategies adopted by some attractions to build or strengthen the bond with their guests and communicate health and safety protocols while promoting their destination.

The research investigates the possibility of better understanding post-COVID-19 travelers, taking into account search trends and user behavior, and therefore learn best practices to successfully communicate with visitors. In a totally novel market situation, like the one originated by COVID-19, authors suggest that a new approach is fundamental to address post-COVID-19 travelers.

The integrated approach proposed within this paper aims at investigating the guests’ feelings and expectations by looking at objective data drawn from online social engagement with audiovisual content produced by theme parks and by looking at small neuroscientific data collected with neuromarketing research tools. The great innovation of neuromarketing research to assess the emotional reactions to specific contents is related to the use of technologies that give direct access to cognitive and emotional dimensions.

COVID-19 has changed travelers’ mindset, and the way guests choose destinations has radically transformed; destination marketers must be aware of this swift and use suitable tools to respond to customers’ needs and connect with their guests. In this study we attempt to analyze the emotional reaction to content to deep dive different engagement scores.

In partnership with


Guest Experience, Online Engagement, COVID-19, User Experience, Theme Parks, Neuromarketing, Small Data


Dr. Barbara Antonucci, Ph.D., Roma Tre University

Barbara Antonucci is professor at Roma Tre University, Department of Languages, Literatures and Foreign Cultures where she teaches Translation Studies. Besides researching and writing on her specific field of research (Translation Studies), she is the coordinator (since 2017) of the post-graduation course Lingue, Comunicazione Interculturale e Management del Turismo (Languages, Interculturality, and Tourism Management), at Roma Tre University. In her 5-year activity as a Coordinator of the Course on Tourism, she has devoted much energy in creating a bond between the main players (both private and public) of the Tourism Industry and the university and has organized more than 30 events aimed at discussing different topics related to Tourism/s. 

In the last two years, she participated to the research project “Inclusive memory. Promozione e sviluppo di una memoria comune e inclusiva attraverso percorsi innovativi di didattica museale” (Promotion and Development of a Shared, inclusive Memory). Coordinator: Professor Antonella Poce (Roma Tre University). She was also a Member of the Scientific Committee for the realization of the Strategic Development Plan for Tourism for the city of Rome, promoted by the former Councilor for Tourism of the City of Rome Carlo Cafarotti. 

In 2019, she joined a research project for EU Parliament on the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and she produced the following publications: (In press) Knezevic, L; Antonucci, B; Cutrufo, N.; Marongiu, L.; Rodrigues, M.; Teoh, T; 2021, Research for TRA Committee – Relaunching transport and tourism in the EU after COVID-19- Tourism Sector – European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels; Rodrigues, M; Cvelbar, L; Lozzi, G; Teoh, T; Ramos, C; Antonucci, B; Marcucci, E.; Gatta, V. 2021, Research for TRAN Committee – Relaunching transport and tourism in the EU after COVID-19, European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels; Rodrigues, M; Sandri, E; Antonucci, B; Knezevic, L; Teoh, T; 2021, Research for TRAN Committee – Relaunching transport and tourism in the EU after COVID-19 – Aviation sector, European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels.

In October 2020, she presented a paper at the international conference Tourism and Spirituality: Building the Tourism of the Future, organized by Lusófona University, title: “Tourism and Spirituality:
is Rome a city where to seek spirituality/find a spiritual dimension?”

From December 2020 to May 2021, she was a member of the Scientific Committee THinc –Tourism and Hospitality International Conference (THInC2021). The conference “CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND TOURISM FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT” was organized by Lusofona University of Humanities and Technologies (UNIVERSIDADE LUSOFONA, Lisbon, Portugal) in partnership with Coventry University (UK), the University of South Africa and Manchester University (UK). 1st THInC 2021» Turismo Lusófona | Escola de Ciências Económicas e das Organizações ( In May 2021, she presented a paper at the Tourism and Hospitality International Conference THInC2021, title: “Postcolonial Writing and Tourism: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid”.

Dr. Andrea Ciceri, Ph.D., Sense Catch

After obtaining a PhD in neuromarketing and consumer psychology, he is founder and president of SenseCatch.

In SenseCatch he combines the classical research methodologies like interviews or focus group with neuroscientific ones, with particular interest in the Eye Tracking methodology, a methodology that allows direct access to visual data and considers it fundamental to explain consumer behavior.

His goal is to make available more detailed, accurate and objective information with which to analyze market and gain strategic insights. He collaborates with research centers and universities also in international projects.

He spent a period at SenseLab, the Decision Neuroscience Research Cluster (DNRC) at the Department of Marketing of Copenhagen Business School. 

He is author of different scientific article on topics like consumer neuroscience applied to consumer behavior, marketing and psychology.

Nicole Cutrufo, PMP, Global Project Manager & Founder – Doitwell

Guest Experience Strategist and University Lecturer of Guest Experience Management in Rome, Italy. Nicole helps companies to design, streamline, and execute digital strategies that put guests at the center — to create amazing experiences and drive strong business results. Having worked around the world in the US, Italy, Germany, and France supporting large brands (Disney, Universal Studios) as well as supporting startups, She specializes in content strategy, ecommerce, conversion funnels, guest experience, apps, reviews, and more.

Publications & Research Studies:

Courtney Riall Mallory, Doitwell International Project Coordinator

Courtney is an International Project Coordinator based in South Korea. Her academic background is in Event and Hospitality management; and most of her career has focused on domestic and international conference and meeting planning for associations in Washington D.C. Her current projects involve connecting clients’ projects with international consultants at Doitwell.

Publications & Research Studies:

Giulia Songa, PhD., Sense Catch

CEO & founder of SenseCatch, an innovative company specialized in the application of neuroscience and human behaviour to help companies in the improvement of products, services, and communication with a customer-centric approach.

Master’s degree in consumer psychology with a focus on neuroscience, and PhD in consumer behaviour, and neuromarketing. Visiting researcher at Ghent University, with a project about labels and food perception. Expert in consumer behavior, decision making and implicit measurements.

Research interests: integration of classical measurements, neuro/psychophysiological signals, eye-tracking and behavioral measurements in consumer research (packaging, website, advertising, in-store and out of home) and human performance (job, sport and human empowerment) to investigate attention, emotions and implicit attitudes.

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