YouTube Videos Are A Hot Destination For Travel Consumers

Google whitepa­per reveals how video is being used by trav­el con­sumers to research, eval­u­ate, and inspire their pur­chas­ing deci­sions. The data paints a pow­er­ful pic­ture of how video can empow­er con­sumer pur­chase cycles. Do trav­el brands need to be get­ting...

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Google whitepa­per reveals how video is being used by trav­el con­sumers to research, eval­u­ate, and inspire their pur­chas­ing deci­sions. The data paints a pow­er­ful pic­ture of how video can empow­er con­sumer pur­chase cycles. Do trav­el brands need to be get­ting onboard?


Trav­el­ers are spend­ing more time watch­ing online videos than ever before, accord­ing to a new whitepa­per from Think With Google. An analy­sis of YouTube data revealed that views of trav­el-relat­ed con­tent are up 118 per­cent year over year (YoY).

The increas­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of mobile devices to con­sume video has made an impact on the rise in trav­el video view­ings. In 2013, mobile devices account­ed for 30 per­cent of trav­el video views, but these have risen 97 per­cent on smart­phones and 205 per­cent on tablets YoY.

When Are Consumers Watching Travel Videos?

As the graph below shows, there is a strong rise in trav­el video views in evening peri­ods, sug­gest­ing that videos are play­ing a key part in the research and con­sid­er­a­tion stages of the con­sumer jour­ney.

This is sup­port­ed by evi­dence in Google’s whitepa­per where it states that “accord­ing to a recent study con­duct­ed with Ipsos Medi­aCT, two out of three U.S. con­sumers watch online trav­el videos when they’re think­ing about tak­ing a trip.”

Videos At The Top Of The Funnel

As fur­ther proof of the impor­tance of videos at the top of the pur­chase fun­nel, the whitepa­per reveals that the vast major­i­ty, 71 per­cent to be exact, of trav­el video search­es are based on des­ti­na­tion names.

Search­es for gen­er­al trav­el queries (8 per­cent), local attrac­tions (9 per­cent), trav­el prod­ucts (6 per­cent), and trav­el brands (6 per­cent), were all con­sid­er­ably low­er.

This is in stark con­trast to the role search plays in the the trav­el con­sumers jour­ney, where search­es for spe­cif­ic brands of com­pa­nies (i.e., bot­tom of the fun­nel pur­chas­es), form a mas­sive 58 per­cent of trav­el search­es. It fig­ures make a remark­able con­trast and clear­ly illus­trate the vary­ing roles the chan­nels have in the pur­chase cycle.

Brand vs. Community Generated Content

There is a grow­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for trav­el brand mar­keters. Six­ty-sev­en per­cent of trav­el-relat­ed video views were for brand or pro­fes­sion­al­ly released videos, accord­ing to Google’s data. In total, views of brand­ed videos have risen 394 per­cent YoY, with com­pa­nies with a strong brand pres­ence, such as Turk­ish Air­lines, Dis­ney Parks & Resorts and Expe­dia, mak­ing the most of the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Fur­ther­more, view­er­ship for trav­el videos increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly across cat­e­gories. The major­i­ty of users are tun­ing in to watch videos about tourist des­ti­na­tions and attrac­tions (40 per­cent of the total trav­el views), how­ev­er the the largest YoY growth can be seen in the cruis­es and char­ters cat­e­go­ry, up an impres­sive 262 per­cent. This rise is large­ly due to an increase in video con­tent pro­duced by com­pa­nies such as Car­ni­val Cruise Lines, Viking Riv­er Cruis­es, and Princess Cruis­es.

Percent Of Travel Channel Subscriptions By Format

As well as watch­ing videos, con­sumers are also engag­ing with con­tent cre­ators and con­nect­ing with brands. In 2014 year to date, sub­scrip­tions to top trav­el chan­nels on YouTube have increased 106 per­cent, with sub­scribers watch­ing 86 per­cent longer per view than non-sub­scribers.

They’re also extreme­ly inter­est­ed in hear­ing real-life sto­ries. Near­ly half of the trav­el (48 per­cent) sub­scrip­tions are to vlogs (video blogs) that fea­ture per­son­al trav­el expe­ri­ences.

Influ­encers have a key role to play in the con­sid­er­a­tion and research phas­es, and the long pur­chase cycles of trav­el means that per­son­al con­tent (and rec­om­men­da­tions) are espe­cial­ly impor­tant in this ver­ti­cal in par­tic­u­lar. Reas­sur­ing­ly for brands, con­sumers also have an appetite for brand­ed con­tent, with 19 per­cent of trav­el sub­scrip­tions for offi­cial trav­el brand chan­nels.

Travel Channel Subscribers By Age Group

In terms of age, peo­ple of all ages sub­scribe to YouTube trav­el con­tent. Fifty per­cent of trav­el chan­nel sub­scribers are aged 25–64, while 38 per­cent fall in the 18–24 age range.

Amongst the younger audi­ence, sub­scribers tends to favor trav­el vlogs, sug­gest­ing they have more of an inter­est in “authen­tic” con­tent, whilst the 25- to 64-year-olds seem to be inter­est­ed in a broad­er range of con­tent asso­ci­at­ed with deci­sions fur­ther down the trav­el pur­chase path, such as brand infor­ma­tion, reviews, and tips.

What Does This Mean For Marketers?

As Google points out in the whitepa­per, the rise in online video con­sump­tion rep­re­sents a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands and mar­keters:

Across indus­tries, adver­tis­ers are increas­ing­ly embrac­ing online video to dri­ve aware­ness and engage­ment, and this trend is only expect­ed to accel­er­ate. For trav­el adver­tis­ers, online video is a pow­er­ful way to con­vey excite­ment about a des­ti­na­tion, prod­uct, ser­vice or brand.”

You can read the full report on trav­el YouTube videos here.

Q&A with Greg Jarboe

To fur­ther find out how trav­el brands can real­ly under­stand and engage with both video, and YouTube as a chan­nel, we inter­viewed Greg Jar­boe, Founder of SEO-PR and author of YouTube and Video Mar­ket­ing: An Hour a Day, which you can read below:

Patrick Hong: What kind of trav­el videos are see­ing the most lift on YouTube? Where do these fit in the trav­el pur­chase cycle?

Greg Jar­boe: Accord­ing to a recent study Google con­duct­ed with Ipsos Medi­aCT, two out of three U.S. con­sumers watch online trav­el videos when they’re think­ing about tak­ing a trip. What exact­ly are trav­el­ers look­ing for? The data now shows that 88 per­cent of YouTube trav­el search­es focus on des­ti­na­tions, attractions/points of inter­est or gen­er­al trav­el ideas. This new study con­firms the data that I pre­sent­ed in March at my YouTube Mar­ket­ing and Tourism ses­sion at the Be-Wiz­ard! con­fer­ence in Rim­i­ni, Italy. I said trav­el­ers watch up to an hour of relat­ed YouTube videos before they book a trip.

Patrick Hong: What advice do you have for small­er brands and oper­a­tors look­ing to per­form on the chan­nel?

Jar­boe: Actu­al­ly, some of the small­er brands and oper­a­tors are doing much bet­ter on YouTube than most of the big­ger brands and oper­a­tors. For my pre­sen­ta­tion at Be-Wiz­ard, Unruly pro­vid­ed me with a cus­tom chart of the share of social videos being shared in the Trav­el and Trans­port ver­ti­cal from Feb. 17, 2013, to Feb. 17, 2014. The chart showed Turk­ish Air­ways in first place with a 29.5percent share, fol­lowed by Qatar Air­ways in sec­ond place with 26.3 per­cent, Air New Zealand in third place with 14.1 per­cent, and British Air­ways in fourth place with 12 per­cent. So, my advice is pay atten­tion to the small­er brands and oper­a­tors who have the largest share of shares. You’ll learn more by exam­in­ing the Turk­ish Air­lines chan­nel on YouTube or the Air New Zealand chan­nel than you will by round­ing up the usu­al sus­pects.

Patrick Hong: How are trav­el brands mea­sur­ing their suc­cess with video?

Jar­boe: Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most trav­el brands are still using “views” as their mea­sure of suc­cess. But I inter­viewed Sarah Wood, the COO and co-founder of Unruly, for Search Engine Watch back in Jan­u­ary of this year. She pre­dict­ed that brands would begin to ques­tion the val­ue of a view. She said, “The val­ue of a video view will come under huge scruti­ny in 2014, as more and more brands will want to know their ad is actu­al­ly in view and we’ll see a grow­ing demand for guar­an­teed viewa­bil­i­ty. Sec­ond­ly, the main pur­pose of dig­i­tal video will change from pure­ly brand aware­ness (cit­ed by 94.6 per­cent of U.S. media agen­cies as the prime objec­tive of their cam­paigns) to oth­er met­rics fur­ther down the fun­nel. It’s not just about YouTube now. Smart mar­keters and brands are engag­ing con­sumers in their own native envi­ron­ments across the Open Web.” From my per­spec­tive, she was spot on.

Patrick Hong: What are some of your most mem­o­rable YouTube trav­el cam­paigns you’ve seen this year?

Jar­boe: Well, one of my favorites is “West­Jet Christ­mas Mir­a­cle: Real Time Giv­ing”. It was pub­lished on Dec. 8, 2013, so I guess that — tech­ni­cal­ly — I saw it last year. But it is so com­pelling that I’d make an excep­tion for it.

But, if I’m lim­it­ed to this year, then it has to be “Delta’s 80’s In-Flight Safe­ty Video”. Pub­lished on Jan. 28, 2014, It was “wicked awe­some, dude!”

This arti­cle first appeared on the Linkdex blog.


If you haven’t already done so, I’d high­ly rec­om­mend a quick watch of both WestJet’s and Delta Air­lines videos for great exam­ples of what’s pos­si­ble for trav­el brands to achieve with video. Do you agree?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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