The many automated “out of office” messages that return when I send emails each day are a sure sign that summer vacations are in full swing. Whether people are enjoying life unplugged or preparing for a seasonal destination, one topic seems to dominate thoughts and conversations: the leisure getaway.

The conversation that occurs between friends and colleagues is just a pale reflection of the summer-vacation-themed chatter unfolding online, as travelers turn to social media to plan their itineraries. Forrester Data’s Consumer Technographics® insights reveal that nearly a fifth of US leisure travelers referenced travel-focused blogs, communities, or review sites to research their recent flight tickets, rental cars, and hotel accommodations. In fact, data shows that parents of young children who are in the throes of last-minute vacation prep are especially reliant on social channels: 26% reference peer-generated content before booking accommodation, and over a fifth do so when reserving an airline ticket or renting a car.

So, what are the social-savvy summer vacationers talking about this year? Taking the pulse of social listening data reveals the most passionate elements of current conversations:

This social listening data shows that as consumers discuss summer vacations across social channels, chatter about specific destinations and affordable experiences inspires the most positive sentiment, while mentions of risky adventure and expensive itineraries spark negative emotions.

This is more than simply a tool for customer insights; the content that travelers exchange and the behaviors they engage in on social media represent an opportunity for brands to engage with potential customers. The challenge is for brands to seamlessly and naturally join this consumer conversation. As my colleague Melissa Parrish says in her recent report, “Post-digital marketers know that customer obsession is as much about empathy and emotion as it is about data. While you can and must measure the ROI of social marketing on a per-program basis, the bigger opportunity [especially around holiday campaigns] is in its ability to put your company in unfiltered conversation with your audience in which your brand can demonstrate its empathy, authenticity, and inclusiveness [in these stressful and exciting moments for consumers].”