If you type the name of a destination into Google’s search bar, it will likely result in thousands of articles, FAQs, blogs and websites, giving you long-form editorial content and breaking news about that destination. Type the name of a destination into the search bar of YouTube, the world’s second most popular search engine after Google, and you’ll receive thousands of minutes of first-hand accounts from self-proclaimed travel vloggers, each drawing you in with engaging titles aimed for virality, such as “48 Hours in Bangkok” or “The Ultimate Travel Vlog: Tulum.”
With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, this search engine for videos has become a primary way for users to seek destination inspiration and get an unfiltered view of the destination through the eyes of someone they trust – a fellow consumer.
One of these creators is Erik Conover, who started his channel in 2014 as a daily vlog of his life in New York City. Over the next four years, Erik has evolved his YouTube channel into an outlet for high-quality travel and lifestyle videos. This has earned him over 400,000 subscribers and allowed him the opportunity the work with destinations such as Martinique, Paris and Japan.
Eager to teach destination marketing organizations (DMOs) about how he got his start, trends he expects to see in the YouTube world, and the advantages of hiring a travel vlogger over traditional advertising outlets, Erik answered our questions geared toward learning how to better work with travel YouTubers:
What is the inspiration behind your YouTube channel?
I moved to New York City with a passion for film making and acting. I knew that I wanted to work for myself and share my ideas and perspectives, and YouTube was the perfect space for it. I started off daily vlogging and in 2016 I took a trip to Costa Rica and put up a video series on it. Then I started getting contacted by the tourism boards for Martinique, Paris and Japan – it was a snowball effect that has allowed my channel to evolve into what it is now.
How did you get into the world of travel vlogging?
By accident! I grew up watching films that were set in incredible locations all around the world and never did much traveling as a kid. I started my YouTube channel in January of 2015, filming daily vlogs about my life in New York City. Over time, as YouTube became my full-time job, I was able to shift my content to topics I am passionate about, including travel.
What’s the biggest benefit of using YouTubers for destination campaigns?
YouTube is much more of an immersive experience than traditional marketing. The personal connection is stronger when you’re watching a YouTube video than a photo or a TV commercial. YouTube is also a massive search engine — I find out about new destinations 99 percent of the time from social media Instagram and YouTube. Many times a video is a personable look at a destination with zero filter.
What are some YouTube trends that are on your radar for the next year? What do these trends mean for your business?
The YouTube landscape changes very quickly. For 2019, you need to be creating content that is highly specific, searchable and serial – if someone stumbles across your video, it’s one out of a whole series that they will be compelled to consume.
What do you wish destinations knew before approaching you?
The true value that creators have in marketing a location! It’s not about the number of views the video is getting. It’s about the quality of the content and the quality of the engagement. Sometimes we’ll get a direct message from someone who says something like “booked my honeymoon after watching your video,” and that is a testament to the value of what we’re doing here.
How do you measure success on a YouTube video?
In order of most to least important: watch time, comments, shares, likes and views.
Fill in the blank: I wish destinations would ___ when working with me as a digital influencer.
Trust me more! Brands need to trust the content creator that they hire, and understand that we know the space and how to engage our audience in the most authentic and engaging way.
What is one destination you would love to work with but haven’t yet had the opportunity?
Tourism New Zealand
Interested in learning more about Erik and how to market your destination on YouTube? Send him a tweet at @erikconover, or tweet us at @aboutdci.