An Open Letter To YouTube From The Travel Community

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Posted on / by Alex Berger

To the YouTube Team,

You’ve created a spectacular service and continued to expand YouTube to include powerful editing tools, music archives, and much more. You have shown a strong desire to enrich the user experience, while simultaneously improving the overall quality of videos on the site, as well as what we are able to offer as producers. More recently, you’ve continued to tweak how sub-categories are organized and displayed within the site’s 12 main topics.  These have helped improve the usefulness of the Travel and Events category significantly.   Unfortunately, the impact of these changes has been largely blunted by one fundamental issue: that Travel and Events are together in one category, when they truly need to be two separate categories.

I realize that on the surface, Travel and Events seem like interrelated categories.  When you travel, you spend time at events. Right? The challenge, however, is that the type of content which people consider to be Travel content and what people consider to fall under the Events category is fundamentally different. Travel and Events categories are not just different in the content itself, but also  in what the consumer is interested in and seeking out.  When I hear “Events” I think news footage, concert videos, and conference panel videos.

As I write this I’m looking at Travel & Event’s “Popular Videos”. The top video at the moment is titled, “Blowing Sh!t Up” and is an incoherent video from what appears to be VidCon which includes a guy walking around pointing at things with fake explosions. The user’s other videos include titles like “Groupies Gone Wild”, “Dancing Around Naked”, “Look at our Melons!!!” and “Beat Up In A Locker”.  The second most popular video depicts footage of a group of people singing drunkenly, apparently also at VidCon. This user’s other recent videos include “Audience Sings Dramatic Song”, “Tobuscus Dance Party”, “World’s Deadliest Drug”, and “Best Buy Prank”. The third video is a bungee jump– not bad, as that’s pretty travel oriented.  Video number four? VidCon again. Number five? A Visit Las Vegas ad. Other videos include “Katy Perry ‘Part of me’ movie premier!” and a lifeblogger talking about her weekly nail appointment and the day’s sunbathing trip to the pool. Not unlike iJustine who dominated the “Travel” section for more than a year.

Our issue as a community isn’t that these videos aren’t an acceptable and vibrant part of YouTube. Many are quite popular and there is obviously an eager audience for them. Most are also somewhat relevant for the Events/Catch-all part of the category. The problem, however, is that they really don’t have much to do with the Travel part of the tag and that they are a type of content that I really don’t want to wade through when searching for a video about food in Guatemala. When most people think “Travel” they think Travel Channel, National Geographic, beautiful time-lapses, exotic food, and similar events. Right now, these videos are being completely lost or forced into other categories. In many cases, it has also driven many travel vloggers and video consumers to move away from YouTube to other sites all together. In effect the Events/Travel category makes it so frustrating and unpleasant to find and discover new, quality travel related content/channels that it is actively discouraging viewers from using the site.

So, we’re asking for one small change which would make a world of difference: Split Travel and Events into two separate categories. You’ve already started to move down this path by creating the auto-generated lists, such as YouTube – Bali. Unfortunately, even these lists are limited and based on a very basic set of locations and categories. A dedicated Travel category would help aggregate these videos and give viewers much greater access to the type of travel content they want. There are a lot of incredible independent/hobbyist film and video makers generating travel content right now and they would love to add their material to YouTube. The “Where the Hell is Matt? 2012” video with 2.5 million views since June 20th is a prime example of this. It’s just unfortunate that a lot of these videos get lost and buried underneath a 50 second clip of Justin Bieber being spotted at a concert.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Alex Berger, YouTube user Glamdering.

I invite other members of the travel and travel video community to add their voices to mine by way of a comment on this post. Feel free to share why you believe that “Travel and Events” needs to be split into two separate categories, and please leave your YouTube channel and website.

*A special thank you to fellow travel bloggers Lillie, Rebecca, and Dylan for their feedback on this letter.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

9 Comments

  • Mehdy
    July 2, 2012

    I totally Agree with this. Let me know how I can help!

    My Channel on YouTube is: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHostelLife?feature=mhee

    Reply
  • Adventurous Kate
    July 2, 2012

    Dear YouTube:

    I completely agree with everything Alex has said here. As a YouTuber with exclusively travel videos, we need our own category to find and share our material more easily. It would also help you quite a bit on the ad front, being able to bring in better-targeted adverts.

    –YouTube user adventurouskate, 80k views

    Reply
  • Nancy D. Brown
    July 2, 2012

    Agreed, would love to have travel videos in a stand alone category on YouTube.

    NancydBrown’s YouTube channel, 176,379 video views
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NancydBrown?feature=mhee

    Reply
  • kerri
    July 2, 2012

    As a YouTube content creator since 2006, and YouTube partner since 2010, I’ve seen many wonderful improvements and changes made to the YouTube site. I’ve often wondered, too, when travel would get its own category. YouTube is where I choose to share my vlogs and musings from places around the world, and travel needs to be separated from other categories so that users can easily find the foreign travel vlogs and travel-related advice videos for which they are searching.
    Thank you,
    http://www.expatkerri.com/
    http://www.youtube.com/expatkerri

    Reply
  • Lenore Greiner
    July 2, 2012

    YouTube, make a standalone category for travel, as it should be.

    YouTube: TravelGearForWomen

    Reply
  • TheTravelVlogger
    July 2, 2012

    Dear Youtube,

    You guys are freaking awesome and think you guys are doing an awesome job. That is why us Travel Vloggers would like to have our own separate category. Travel videos and event videos are different in almost every aspect. I believe that if you placed a stronger emphasis on travel videos you increase viewership on youtube! Please consider this when trying to make a Youtube better. Thanks!

    Safe Travels,

    Brian Cox
    TheTravelVlogger.com

    Reply
  • Dalene
    July 2, 2012

    As a new-ish YouTube user who will be adding a LOT more in the future, I fully support this!

    YouTube user: hecktictravels

    Reply
  • Spencer Spellman
    July 4, 2012

    Couldn’t have come at a better time. I was just ranting on Twitter about how ridiculous it is that there isn’t a more definite channel/category for travel. Travel is one of the biggest industries in the world and one of the most popular things that people share and for YouTube not to better tap into this doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a win/win for everyone involved.

    Reply
  • Jeff
    July 4, 2012

    This change is necessary and long overdue. Hear our calls YouTube!!

    Reply

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