David Reilly was named Blogger/Vlogger of the year at the 2021 Travel Media Awards for his YouTube channel, Life of Reilly. We spoke to him about showing his viewers around destinations and why authenticity is making a comeback.

What does it mean to you to win a Travel Media Award?

It really does mean so much. We haven’t got 100,000 subscribers and are still relatively new to the industry, so we didn’t expect to win at all. We really appreciate that these awards aren’t a popularity contest and are based on the quality of the work submitted, which meant we had a chance. We were genuinely so excited just to be nominated, but this award has already started opening doors for us. It was extra special to win during the pandemic because it had been such a rough year. As vloggers, we have to film and be in a location to create content, which was very difficult during the pandemic.

What were your biggest challenges during the past year?

Our YouTube channel was just starting to take off as lockdown hit, but with fewer people searching for travel videos our views fell off a cliff, which was hugely demoralising. We had exciting plans for 2020 — but the travel bans did mean we made a few videos about the UK, which was great.

What makes a good travel story?

As vloggers, pictures are really important. Yes, you can tell a story or create a travel guide by talking into your phone, but action and adventure will always make it more engaging for the viewer and make them feel they’re with you. We love showing people around a destination, but a great angle on a story, or something that’s new, will always make it more compelling. I also love speaking to people from the country or city we’re visiting. If you put all these elements together, you’re going to make a video that lots of people will want to watch. I’ve been a reporter/producer at ITV News for nearly 20 years, so I try to put all of my journalism and storytelling skills to good use in our videos.

Do you think blogging and vlogging will change over the next few years?

Vlogging is still going to be most popular on YouTube for planning and long-form videos, but snapshots of destinations will grow in popularity via short-form videos, with YouTube Shorts coming into the frame alongside Instagram Reels etc. I’ve noticed that ‘simpler’ video production is becoming fashionable again, as viewers choose authenticity over drone shots and slow-motion music montages. This is good news if you’ve always thought you weren’t a good enough editor or videographer to start a YouTube channel.