How and Why to Market Your Property With YouTube

By Alex Gaggioli, September 30, 2015

Hoteliers who invest in video marketing are poised for success. ThinkWithGoogle created a white paper in 2014 highlighting the growth of travel related YouTube views in the past years. Two out of three US consumers watch online travel videos when they’re planning a trip. Simply put, hoteliers who don’t invest in video are leaving money on the table.

Many hoteliers, and other business owners, believe that video marketing is too difficult. But, chances are, you already have the tools you need to get started. An iPhone or Android camera and software such as iMovie or Movie Maker are adequate tools to create quality videos.

Part 1: Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Video

Over 1 Billion Users on YouTube

Hoteliers should focus on YouTube as essential to their video marketing strategy. It it is the world’s leading online video publishing platform. The platform has become an unstoppable force in terms of size and influence. YouTube has over a billion users, which is equivalent to more than one-third of ALL people on the internet. According to their statistics page, they reach more 18-24 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the United States. The site doesn’t only cater to a US market as 80% of their total views come from outside the United States.

Video is Trending

Countless sources cite 2015 as the year of video marketing, including ForbesHubSpot, and Marketing Profs to name a few. Travelers are spending more time watching videos than ever before. Travel-related content is up 118% year over year. The majority of travel-related views comes from brand or professionally released videos up 394% year over year. Google cites Turkish Airlines, Disney Parks & Resorts and Expedia as leveraging the most of the opportunity.

While YouTube dominates the video market, almost every social platform has added some sort of video functionality, or has given focus to video content. Here are a few examples:

  • Instagram, the most popular photo-sharing platform, introduced video in 2013
  • Vine, the 6-second overnight sensation, launched in January 2013 .
  • Facebook altered their newsfeed algorithm in 2014 and again in 2015 to better showcase video. It now automatically plays videos in users’ feeds.
  • Snapchat added video in late 2012 .
  • and Twitter purchased Periscope, video streaming app, in early 2015.

Social media platforms, content creators, and businesses alike recognize the importance of this not-so-new medium to gain users and potential customers’ attention.

Video Will Only Grow More Popular

According to Cisco, video will make up 80% of all consumer traffic by 2019. Hubspot offered data to show the impact of video from a marketing perspective. Video accounts for 50% of all mobile internet traffic, and in a world where mobile comes first, this is important to the growth of your marketing strategy.

Needless to say, these metrics point to the huge opportunity that video presents. 93% of marketers use video for online marketing, sales, and communication Your hotel or hostel should too.

In order to capitalize on these video marketing trends, we suggest uploading and sharing videos via YouTube. While other marketing and social channels offer video capability, YouTube’s size and influence offers the best environment to start creating. We will publish another blog post highlighting other video channels soon.

Some Travel Brands Get It

Video marketing works well for hospitality and travel brands. Visit California and Hyatt Hotels Corporation have invested in YouTube videos and seen a great return. Visit California created The Dream 365 Project and took over the YouTube homepage in several countries. For 24 hours, a different video appeared every hour in an attempt to increase engagement. The project increased awareness and increased trip consideration by 7%. Those who watched the videos were 17% more likely to travel.

Visit California Dream 365 YouTube Page

Hyatt created an ad campaign for YouTube to target female business travelers and successfully used Lightbox Ads to reach 17 million users and receive half a million engagements.

Both ad campaigns saw tremendous results among their targeted audiences largely in part due to their commitment to video.

These examples are from large corporate brands, but we can learn some principles that even smaller independent hotels can use to leverage the power of YouTube.

Part 2: How-to and Best Practices  

Getting Started and Content Ideas

Here’s some advice to get started quickly: dive right in. Do not worry about having the perfect camera, lighting, or editing skills. You can create quality content with the tools most smartphones and computers already have. Begin by creating an introduction video. Include who you are, highlights from you and your property’s history, and general information about your destination. Another good video to include is a property tour. Highlight the interior, exterior, your staff, amenities, local attractions, etc.

Here are some sample questions you can answer in your introductory video:

  • What type of guests do you attract?
  • How do you describe your property?
  • What makes it unique?

Those simple questions will help answer questions guests have who are looking for a property just like yours. Over time, you will get better at making and editing videos. But, the key is to set aside anxiousness and perfectionism and just get started.

After you produce your introductory video and your property tour, here are some other content ideas:

  • Activities at your property (i.e. happy hour, restaurant, fitness center, game room, etc.)
  • Favorite local drink
  • Favorite local food
  • Local recommendations: bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hikes, activities
  • Facts about your destination
  • Personal travel stories
  • Guest travel stories
  • Interviews with local businesses
  • Local “how to” videos
    • How to build a fire on the beach
    • How to spot local plants and wildlife
    • How to plan a 3-hour pub crawl
    • Top 5 photography sites
    • etc.

There are endless content possibilities around you, both in and out of your property. Sometimes you just need to consciously look for them.

Setup Your Channel: 

You can watch, like, and subscribe to videos with a Google Account that does not include a public presence. (If you do not have a Google Account you can obtain one here). But, to create a YouTube Channel, you will need to follow the directions below.

There are two ways to create a channel. The first option is to use your name with your account, however, you should use your property’s name instead.

Make sure you are signed in to YouTube and go to All my channels. If you want to create an account for a Google+ page you manage you will have that option, otherwise click ‘Create a new channel.’ Then, fill out the details.

All of this information can be found on YouTube’s help page located here.

Setting up Your Channel for Success

Once you have created your account, navigate to your channel homepage by clicking on ‘My Channel’ located in the top left pane.

In the About section your channel homepage located under the channel art, upload a channel description, your email, country, and links to your website and other social channels.

YouTube Screenshot 1

YouTube Screenshot 2
On the right-hand side you can also add featured channels that will show up when people navigate to your YouTube page. You can highlight interesting partners and content creators relevant to your property such as Expedia or another travel brand.

Next you need to upload channel art. In the top middle section of the ‘My Channel’ page, click channel art and add a picture that is 2560 x 1224. This is a good place to use a beautiful, high-resolution photo from your property. You will also need to add a profile picture if your account does not already have one. The profile picture is located on Google+ and needs to be square. The profile picture should be your hotel’s logo.

Hotel marketers should use this section to lure in potential guests with beautiful pictures of your property.

YouTube Screenshot 3

After adding those assets, you will need to fill out the remaining channel settings in your Creator Studio. Click on your profile picture in the top right-hand part of the screen (it should be a circle).

Click ‘Creator Studio’

YouTube Screenshot 4
On the left-hand pane, click ‘Channel.’

YouTube Screenshot 5A drop down menu will appear and YouTube will show you your account status and let you know if everything is in working order. If anything appears red, follow the directions to resolve the issue(s).

From this menu, you can also select your upload defaults, privacy status (public/private), channel category, license options, title, description, tags, etc. Fill out this section completely so that people searching for your videos will be able to easily find you.

Because this is your property’s account, we suggest setting the privacy to public. The category, more likely than not, should be travel and events and the license should be a Standard YouTube License.

On the featured content screen, you can select the featured piece of content that will appear on your channel’s homepage. This video automatically plays anytime someone navigates to your page. This video should be a short, punchy tour of your property, unless you have some other video content you think will work better.

Under branding, you can select the branding watermark that will overlay on your videos. This should be your property logo, with a link back to your website.

Under advanced, select your country and insert your channel keywords such as: travel, hostel, hospitality, etc. The keywords should help people discover you, so keep them relevant. Remember not to add channel tags not directly related to your channel. Limit yourself to 3 or 5 channel tags. Examples can be “La Jolla wine hotel” or “California coast bird watching”–something directly related to the reasons guests visit your property.

If you use AdWords, you can link your YouTube account to an ‘AdWords for video account’ which allows you to promote your video and access reporting.

Under associated website, include your property’s website. Also select your channel recommendation preferences as well as subscriber account recommendations. We suggest allowing both channel recommendations and subscriber counts.

Channel recommendations allow YouTube to feature your channel on other relevant videos or channels and will ultimately expand your reach. Subscriber counts allow other users to see how popular your channel is and give it validation. Even if you don’t have many subscribers, it is good to show it.

If you utilize Google Analytics, be sure to include your property tracking ID as well.

Uploading Your First Video

The upload button is located in the top-right corner near your username.

YouTube will take you to the file upload screen where you will select the desired video. While the video uploads you can edit the title, description, add tags, upload a custom thumbnail, playlist, and select the privacy setting.

In the description, add links to your website to help potential customers easily navigate to your site.

Share the video via your social channels and integrate them into your email marketing campaigns.

Test out different video style types and see which have the best return. What works for one business or property may or may not work for another.

Set up Playlists

Playlists organize the way your channel works. They help both new and old channel visitors navigate your channel and direct them to relevant content. For example, you can create a playlist called ‘Begin here’ and feature introductory videos for you and your property. Or create ‘Top recommendations’ and include videos of your top picks.

Playlists can include your own videos, as well as other videos.

  • To create a playlist:
  • Navigate to your channel page.
  • In the navigation bar under your name select ‘Playlists.’
  • In the Playlist screen, click New playlist and enter the name you would like
  • YouTube will take you to the new playlist screen where you can add a description and more settings including:
    • Privacy
    • Video ordering based on your preferences
    • You can also set it as an official series for your channel
    • Auto add which allows you to automatically add videos containing certain words or phrases to designated playlist such as ‘How to’ or ‘Tips’.
    • Add playlist collaborators

Add a few playlists strictly for your content and a few for other people’s content to give people many options.

Repurposing Content

After you create your video and upload it to YouTube, you can use the same content on other channels. Facebook gives priority to videos uploaded directly to their site, so simply uploading it may return better results.

You can also edit the video into 15-second segments to upload to Instagram. While Vine is probably not the most valuable place to find potential customers, you can edit videos into 6-segments and test their success.

Snapchat requires content created from a smartphone or tablet, so you cannot upload the content, but you could record from your computer if you wanted to test out its impact.

We will write a more in-depth piece on video content for other platforms soon to address all of these issues.


Video marketing has become one of the most lucrative ways to gain attention and find new guests. Hoteliers who decide to use video to attract new guests and engage old ones will certainly see long term benefits. Mobile and video usage will continue to dominate the market and following the trends is essential to remain relevant.

(Featured image Source: Esther Vargas)

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