Africa Travel Week

How travellers are using YouTube rather than Google when choosing hotels

As the second-largest search engine after Google and the second-most used social media platform, YouTube should not be overlooked when thinking about a potential guest’s customer booking journey.

Written by Amy Berry, founder of The Branding Spa

The Google-owned site also dominates the results in Google video search. This means with just one video, your brand doubles its visibility and can be found on two of the most significant search engines in one hit, a real bonus when it comes to growing your reach.

88% of YouTube Travel Searches Focus on Destinations (Think with Google consumer trends)

But how are potential guests finding hotels they want to visit, you may ask? In a world of overedited images, video has become a more trustworthy medium. A Walker study recently found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price as the essential part of the decision making process. Potential guests, therefore, will be seeking to buy into their ideal experience before searching for price comparisons to seal the deal.

Video influences travel decisions

Let’s look at how future guests use the platform to virtually experience hotels in the consideration stage, leading to that all-important booking.

A staggering 93% of customers believe user-generated content is beneficial when making a purchasing decision. Brands have also seen over a 50% conversion rate for visitors who visit pages featuring visual content.

Within the initial stage of the consumer’s journey to purchase, there is the awareness stage. This stage is inspired by online content; a picture shared online may pique interest, but it is only a 2D version of the experience the potential guest wants. In the next stage of consideration, video is the critical factor and where YouTube now has the most significant impact.

Future bookers can search for their desired hotel, take a virtual tour or expand their search into other hotels in the desired location where they can fully discover all the amenities on offer. This allows future guests to immerse themselves in the surroundings and see how those surroundings appeal to their emotions, generating an overall impression that could dictate whether to choose that destination.

At The Branding Spa, we champion and encourage that all the companies we work with have a strong video presence online to highlight their beautiful brand. Since early 2020 The Branding Spa has gained over 3 million organic video views across a multitude of platforms for our clients.

How to optimise your hotel’s YouTube presence

We have found that over 70% of views are gained from search. Therefore, it is important to ensure that each visual cue – from the video thumbnail to the opening few seconds of the video – is presented in the most impressive way and increases the chances of conversion.

Your hotel should therefore have up-to-date video content. This could be a tour of a new room offering or a walkthrough of the whole hotel (or specific areas like a spa). Use your video to highlight what makes your hotel unique and different. Your video content should invoke a feeling or experience you want your guest to buy into.

Do you have trustworthy review videos of your hotel from previous guests and possibly influencers? If the answer is no, it may be time to start working with influencers and integrating user-generated content.

Are your videos keyword-rich? Does your content show in searches for hotels in your area? or if you search for terms relevant to your hotel? You can use more than just your hotel name to obtain traffic. Using keywords well will also help achieve better Google video results.

Using up-to-date video styling and the recently-introduced YouTube Shorts format (which also translates to use on Instagram and TikTok), you will greatly appeal to an influencer-led generation.

Content is key

Online bookers increasingly engage with travel content in the weeks leading up to purchase (Expedia).

As with all content creation, when creating videos for YouTube, you should follow a content strategy. Understanding who your potential guest is and what content they need to see before they purchase is imperative. Generating organic reach is the foundation of video content success. Also, amplifying its reach through YouTube ads can give a promising return of awareness and drive an incredible amount of traffic to your hotel website, depending on budget.

YouTube’s remarkable growth and reach mean that it is one of the most valuable platforms in which to invest marketing efforts, with the potential to reach thousands from one single video. It’s clear that hotels and businesses in the travel sector can be left in the dark if the platform isn’t
utilised. Overall, powerful visual marketing can and will continue to be crucial in this ever-changing social world. Used correctly, it can translate content into bookings and, in turn, re-gain revenue unfortunately lost by many in the travel leisure industry this year.

The Branding Spa is a content styling company offering specific, tailored set services to luxury hotels, destinations and tourism boards worldwide. Whether that’s creating visual content to amplify to 1000’s potential recent guests or developing an achievable social strategy, we aim to help you increase your sales through your visual representation, complimenting your current marketing strategy. The Branding Spa has created content for or has been featured by brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, MSC Luxury Cruises and the Dorchester Collection, to name but a few.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.