Social media influencers sync with startup tools to sell travel - Start Up Gazzete
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Social media influencers sync with startup tools to sell travel


Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms have yet to perfect transactional tools to make it easier to purchase the trips that social media influencers display online. But some startups – like TrovaTrip, Luxury Travel Hackers, and Thatch – are focusing on the e-commerce challenge, and this summer they have received investor backing.

Startups aren’t targeting celebrities on the level of, say, Kourtney Kardashian, an influencer who has 140 million followers watching her August trip to Italy. Instead, they are working with lower-level online personalities.

“Many of our most successful travel hosts have fan bases that are still small enough that they can engage with their audience by responding to comments,” said Lauren Schneider, co-founder of the travel management platform TrovaTrip.

One example: Ally Coucke, a Denver, Colorado-based creator, entrepreneur and traveler with approximately 103,000 Instagram followers, has recently been selling trips, such as a group trip to Alaska that just left, through TrovaTrip.

“His trips for her usually sell out on the same day, and her Instagram stories clearly demonstrate why,” Schneider said. “She is authentic, vulnerable and relatable, and she shows it through a video.”

Coucke has been sharing the highlights of the late August trip through her Instagram Stories.

This is how the process usually works for an influencer who wants to work with TrovaTrip. The influencer visits her portal to see a selection of approximately 100 itineraries already approved by professional tour organizers. She works with Peak DMC, a product developer, operator and destination management company in association with a couple dozen tourism promotion organizations, and which is the same tour operator that Intrepid Travel uses Intrepid Travel.

Professionals will undertake the trip and provide a licensed guide, although the host can increase guest sales at workshops or other joint activities they run on her own behalf. Tour operators choose whether they want to work with the freelancer or pass.

Operators upload itineraries and enter a cost per traveler, which includes a $ 200 fee that TrovaTrip charges the operator. Hosts then select a ride and how much they earn through their profit margin, including the startup’s 10 percent service fee and a 2.9 percent credit card processing fee. The host markets the trip with the help of the startup.

The power of social media influencers to impact people’s travel choices is not new, of course. In 2015, a Justin Bieber music video featuring Iceland’s Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon sparked so much tourism that the country closed the canyon to protect it.

What’s new is the pandemic, which is causing a rethinking in the travel creator economy as tourism boards and brands reinvent their business models and messaging priorities, as Skift recently analyzed in Travel’s Creator Economy Resets for Next Boom.

What’s also new are online tools to reduce the friction of turning what followers see on social media into more quickly bookable itineraries. Several influencers, like the ones behind The Bali Bible, have become travel agents by creating their own sites with booking engines. But startups remove some of the friction influencers face when trying to make money from their content.

People who understand travel are also backing these startups. For example, Barney Harford, former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and former COO of Uber, and Eric Breon, founder and former CEO of Vacasa, invested in TrovaTrip this month as part of a larger $ 5 million round.


The approach of LTH, or Luxury Travel Hackers, a startup that launched this summer, underscores the importance of professionalism.

“We are the only travel technology company that produces travel content with influencers and makes vacations bookable through social media with each trip selected according to the interests and budget of each traveler,” said the co-founder Gary Kohn. “No one until now has really harnessed the influence of social media content on the purchasing decisions of travelers at scale.”

The Austin, Texas-based company believes that high production values ​​are important for online travel recommendation.

“We have two businesses, essentially, and one is that We have a small group of influencers that we produce content with using our Hollywood-based video production team, “said Kohn. His startup has revealed three of the influencers who are salaried, including Lina Lindholm with 103,000 followers on Instagram, since its launch a few months ago.

“We also have this other model where we are bringing content delivered by influencers and travel creators from destinations they have been to in the past, and we help them reuse it and make parts of their itineraries bookable as a travel agency. “Kohn said. “We are building landing pages for travel buyers that include a booking engine.”

“Travel influencers, creators and bloggers often have all of this content that they have on hard drives, gathering dust that we can reuse to create passive income and help satisfy people’s wanderlust,” Kohn said. “An influencer can post visual or video content and include a link in the comments that followers can click to book a ride that they customize with our agents. We generally do a 50-50 commission split with it. influencer “.




On Monday, another startup, Thatch, announced it had raised a round of funding. The company helps influencers organize their travel knowledge into shareable, interactive, and monetizable travel content via a single gateway link. It raised a $3 million seed follow-on round. Investors included Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph. The startup plans to launch its monetization tools soon.

Trvl is another startup that influencers and other people will be able to tap to sell hotel rooms — once it relaunches after pandemic travel restrictions lift. The Amsterdam-based peer-to-peer marketplace lets people earn commissions when travelers book the hotels they recommend.

A person doesn’t have to have millions of fans to take advantage of the new tools from Trvl, Thatch, and other startups.

“A micro-influencer with 15,000 or fewer followers could also do well,” Schneider said. “We have certain KPIs [key performance indicators] that we look for when we reach out to someone directly to use our platform. Some of the most important ones are authenticity, likability, and relatability.”

“We can use analytics tools to check if influencers are connecting with their audiences authentically through their content,” Schneider said. “We can check how the followers are engaging with the content.”

While the democratization of travel selling is notable, it will be a truly billboard moment when a travel company or social media platform makes it seamless for mega-influencers, such as the Kardashians, to sell travel. A company that can enable that could become a major force in travel sales very quickly. Maybe it will be Facebook. Or maybe the entrepreneurial Kardashians will be the ones to figure it out.

Author avatar
Joshua Smith

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