Google recently released a research study – « The 2013 Traveler » – that portrays the typical behavior of travelers when it comes to decision-making. They found that all categories of travelers rely on digital inputs more than ever before to make decisions. This is no big surprise…

What is more interesting is that they chose to dedicate their entire last chapter – supposedly the most important, right ? – to online video. And they provide a few interesting insights about how it’s changing rules in the travel industry. What are those insights? And how can they be interpreted if we push the analysis a bit further?


The survey was conducted among 5000 U.S. consumers by Ipsos MediaCT – an independent marketing-research company – commissioned by Google. The idea is to track and better understand the role of travel in the lives of U.S. consumers.

« More than half of leisure travelers watch online travel videos »

For the first time, more than half of leisure travelers watch online travel videos, 51% to be precise. That’s a 6 points increase compared to 2012. Among business travelers, the figure is even higher since more than 2/3 of travelers are concerned. And this kind of figures is shared across industries as video is now a massive habit online. In the US, online video reaches over 85% of the population (comScore). In France, 1 out of every 3 internet-user watch at least one video every day (according to Mediametrie). This is true on desktop computer but also on mobile – where 4G is coming fast and boost data consumption – and on even more video-friendly devices such as tablets.

The type of videos that are viewed is also discussed in the study. Surprisingly for some of you maybe, professional content leads the way: videos made by hotels, airlines, cruises, tours, etc (62% ), trip reviews from experts (59%), videos from travel-related channels (57%) appear to be the most popular categories. Trip reviews from « people like me » are only in the fourth position (57%). In my opinion, this highlights how important content quality is. Indeed tourism is perhaps the online industry where users pay most attention to their peers’ reviews: the huge success of TripAdvisor is evidence of it. And though they tend to prefer professional videos rather than user-generated content. Actually this is more and more true as people tend to watch longer and longer and richer and richer videos.  On mobile phones, people spend more than half their viewing time with videos longer than 10 minutes (Ooyala notices in its Global Video Index).


The study suggests that online video is key throughout the travel purchase funnel (inspiration > shopping > comparing > purchase). Leisure travelers watch videos for various purposes: when thinking about taking a trip (64%), when choosing a destination (63%), when looking for activity ideas at a particular destination (65%) and when deciding on accommodations (52%).

« Online video: a traveler’s constant companion »

This « companion » isn’t just a passive one who goes with travelers all along their travel purchase trip. No, it’s an active companion who influences travelers and prompts action. Among the most common answers on this influence, people say: it « inspired me to think about planning a vacation », it « influenced where I have decided to travel » and it « prompted me to visit the website of the advertiser ». It seems to be be more than another trend but a true shift in how consumers behave on various devices and pick up the next place they go to.

Online video should therefore be seen as an opportunity. In a field like travel where consumers visit as many as 38 different websites before they book a package (Expedia’s Traveler’s Path to Purchase study), online video can play a key role at every stage for players to differentiate themselves from competitors and engage their audience. Though just 28% of all leisure travelers consider themselves to be loyal to any travel company, among leisure travelers who watch a video on a travel seller’s site, that increases to 42% (Forrester). Travel is not the only highly competitive environment out there so this remark and what follows could be of interest should you work in any other field.


At CROP THE BLOCK, we have a chance to meet and talk to many key players in the travel industry. And very often they are proud to show us their brand new responsive website where large HD images play a more and more important part. « Rich content » – namely HD pictures and videos – become not only a « nice to have » feature on websites but the « must have » of tomorrow. First-movers already understand it today. Everything happens as if after a while when they have been struggling to get booking right and reviews okay, e-travel players could at last move into the inspiration and confidence field, go back to the dream dimension that travel is necessary synonymous with. Hotel for instance more than ever need a good booking system on their own website, good reviews but can and must go further now.

« Video is the new key entry a world where (motion) images prevail. »

My point is that regarding rich content as a key point to differentiation is a very good first step. But what is at stake is probably even more essential. A shift is engaged in users habits, videos are widely viewed on all kinds of screens (PC, mobile, tablet, connected TV). People are searching YouTube for absolutely everything. Video is the new key entry a world where (motion) images prevail. It’s easier than written content to consume and to communicate with. This is true for a very emotional industry such as travel but not only.

In its study, Google warns its readers: « travelers watch more than travel video ». And advise marketers: « think broadly about the types of content audiences engage with — not just travel videos. Be audience-driven and target travelers as they engage with all types of videos. » This means that travel companies should push pre-roll content next to any kind of videos, not just travel ones. But also that they should also take into account the wide new competitive landscape that is opened in front of to them: movie trailers and music videos publishers, news channels, superstar YouTubers, etc… A world full of competitors, but even more full of opportunities! 

Adrien Degouve | Co-founder @ CROP THE BLOCK



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