Starting June 5, YouTube's redesign goes into effect for all brand channels, and this requires some action from travel marketers.
The number of people searching for travel videos on YouTube doubled in the last year, according to Nigel Huddleston, Google’s industry head of travel, revealing global figures to Tnooz.
So mastering your YouTube channel is important.
YouTube claims a 20% pageview spike on channels that have been using the new design -- such as Ritz Carlton's YouTube channel -- during a testing period that is now ending. As the company puts it:
On your new channel, branding works across devices. So you can contact non-subscribed viewers and you can show off more of your content so that fans will go deeper.
Once you've freshened up your YouTube brand page, it's an ideal time to remind people about it. Use your customer relationship systems, social media, or direct email campaigns to visit the channel and subscribe.
Teaser video for non-subscribers
One change is that you can now show a teaser promotional video to users who are not yet subscribing to your channel, which may help convert casual online visitors into followers of your brand. This "Channel Trailer" plays automatically when someone stumbles onto your channel.
Shorter is better, here. No more than two-minutes max, and even shorter is preferable. Introduce yourself -- such as with a tour of your property if you're a hotel owner.
Cover art becomes more responsive across screen types
Another change is that you have greater customization of how your videos and playlists appear on the page. Thankfully, you can now arrange the order that videos appear, so you can guide people to see what you want in your preferred sequence.
Example: Rather than a two-minute video tour of your hotel, you could create a playlist with 10 videos, each only a few seconds each. These bite-size morsels could individually focus on particular parts of your property, such as the pool or a typical penthouse suite.
A series of bite-size videos allows viewers to jump to the part that's most relevant to them by scrolling down your channel page (such as to click on "bathrooms") or to view the property in an order of their choosing. Launching one video causes the others to load up, too, like a music playlist.
Get a fresh look
Other customization options include adding a cover photo to your page. YouTube's new design lets you customize the marketing message shown depending on whether it is being viewed on a desktop, tablet, mobile, or TV.
Case in point: If you assume mobile users may be booking on the go, you could provide more specific call to actions that are more likely appropriate in that context than on a page trying to introduce your brand to the general public via, say, a desktop browser or TV.
YouTube still has work to do
YouTube may have cleaned up the look for brand pages, but it search function is still a mess -- at least when it comes to travel.
Look under "travel & events" as a category today, you'll see a massive mishmash of content -- a lot of which has nothing to do with travel.
Critics charge that the company doesn't make enough of an effort to curate its travel verticals and promote quality content to the same extent that it does for other topics.
For brands, this means it's advisable to pay Google (via advertisements, pre-rolls and other methods) to promote your channels, as a necessary cost to make sure your video is seen by its intended audience.
Unlike text, video still isn't easily indexed for content.
Last year, one in four business travelers used online video for travel planning, according to Google's annual Traveler's Road to Decision study and Google search data. (Thinkinsights with Google, August 2012)
[See also: How to Set-Up a YouTube One Channel for Hotels, by buuteeq, the online marketing platform for hotels.]