MOUNTAIN VIEW: More and more holiday makers are turning to sites such as YouTube when planning their vacations, making a strong video strategy essential for marketers looking to connect with this group, new research has said.

A recent study Google conducted with Ipsos MediaCT found that two out of three US consumers watch online travel videos when they're thinking about taking a trip. Further analysis of views of travel content on YouTube in the US revealed that these were up 118% year on year and that an increasing proportion of this was taking place on mobile devices, which now account for around 30% of all such viewing.

Further, viewing on tablets had tripled year on year (+205%) while that on smartphones had doubled (+97%).

The research also highlighted distinct differences in search activity between YouTube and Google. Thus, while 71% of searches on YouTube were for destination names, the majority on Google (58%) were for specific travel brands.

But travellers were interested in more than simply watching videos, as evidenced by a 106% increase in subscriptions to the top travel channels on YouTube during 2014. "They want to connect with creators and brands," Google's researchers stated. And they're willing to put the time in – subscribers watched 86% longer per view than nonsubscribers

Almost half of these subscriptions were to video blogs relating personal travel experiences, a format that attracted four times more engagement – in the form of likes, comments, shares, favourites and subscriptions – than other types of travel content on YouTube.

After vlogs, travellers were most likely to engage with, in descending order, official travel networks and publications, reviews, tips and how-to content, travel ours and only then official travel brands.

While people of all ages subscribe to YouTube travel content, vlogs were preferred by a younger age group, reflecting the trend noted elsewhere regarding their interest in "authentic" content.

Older consumers watched a broader range of content relevant to frequent travellers, said Google, and those videos tended to be "associated with decisions further down the travel purchase path, such as brand information, reviews and tips".

Data sourced from Think With Google; additional content by Warc staff