Tripscout launches the first hotel booking platform for Instagram
Social media travel startup Tripscout has launched the first online travel agency (OTA) for Instagram. The company also recently completed a $10 million Series A investment, co-led by Accomplice and Corazon Capital, giving Tripscout the leverage it needs to disrupt the hotel booking space.
The booking platform, under the username @hotel, offers its customers discounted rates exclusively negotiated with thousands of hotels around the world.
“Social media is the new SEO, but the legacy travel industry was built on transactional interactions, fueled by billions in annual ad spend. We approached the market quite differently. We built a broad audience , passionate and loyal frequent flyer, and we’re excited to launch these groundbreaking private offers on Instagram, so they can travel more, travel better, and spend less in a post-pandemic world,” said CEO and Co-Founder of Tripscout, Konrad Waliszewski, in a press release.
TravelPulse recently spoke with Waliszewski ahead of launch to find out the details of how this revolutionary new platform works.
TravelPulse (TP): How does the booking process work with Tripscout/@Hotels?
Konrad Waliszewski (KW): Tripscout’s new @Hotel booking platform offers its customers discounted rates exclusively negotiated with thousands of hotels around the world. Travelers can access these exclusive hotel rates by sending a direct message (DM) with the word “hotel” to the @Hotel Instagram account. They receive private rates that are 25-75% lower than the best publicly available rates on hotel websites and OTAs. The private “closed user group” nature of these discounts, combined with the size of its industry-leading organic audience, allows Tripscout to provide the largest hotel deals in the industry.
Here’s how we do it: Other OTAs are bound by price matching agreements that require them to publicly advertise hotel rooms at exactly the same rate. Because we offer these offers via chatbot via private DM, we can offer special discounted rates that we have negotiated for our audience. Additionally, OTAs and booking sites each have to spend billions on paid advertising to compete for a customer, but since our audience of 30 million is entirely organic and growing by over a million subscribers per month, we have a much higher margin per booking that we can pass on as savings to travellers.
TP: Apart from the significant savings, what are the other advantages of booking via an OTA social network?
KW: We help you find and stay at the kind of unique and beautiful hotels you see on Instagram in real life. Additionally, because we serve our organic audience, we are able to over-invest in exceptional, human customer service.
TP: Are reservations protected?
KW: Yes, every reservation is protected and almost every reservation is refundable. We will explicitly inform you if a room is a non-refundable room before booking.
TP: How many hotels do you currently work with and do you plan to increase this number?
KP: With tens of thousands of hotels, we have comprehensive worldwide booking coverage thanks to the many suppliers we work with. We have special, exclusively negotiated private rates for thousands of hotels, and we’re working hard to keep growing that number.
TP: Are there any destinations you are particularly focused on?
kW: Given our 30 million Instagram followers, we have a strong focus on the destinations that interest our audience the most, ranging from big cities like New York and London to vacation destinations like Mexico and the Maldives. We want people to travel better and spend less, so we’re helping them book that aspirational hotel they see on Instagram at affordable rates, rather than focusing on hotels that serve customers in in-between destinations.
TP: Are there other travel services that Tripscout is considering selling through social media sites such as Instagram?
KW: Right now we are fully focused on providing the best hotel booking experience in the world, but our vision is to leverage the Tripscout app to be the first super travel app and assisting customers throughout their journey, from inspiration to planning. reservation to explore the destination.
TP: Will Tripscout take the Instagram model and apply it to other sites like Facebook or TikTok?
KW: We have a strong presence on all social media platforms and plan to help travelers wherever they spend their time. However, Instagram is our priority because it is the social network that is the most impactful tool for travel discovery, planning and commerce. It’s important to remember that Instagram has 2 billion users and the average user spends 53 minutes a day on the platform. And if you’re watching a traveler plan a new trip, opening the Instagram app is almost always their very first action.
The entire travel industry depends on unsustainable and increasingly competitive Google/Facebook advertising, and this is becoming even more difficult with the increase in privacy initiatives from Google and Apple. If used correctly, social media is the most effective channel for user acquisition, retention and conversion and Instagram is the single most important platform for travel marketing.
TP: What type of welcome do you expect to receive when the booking site is online?
KW: We have very high expectations. Hotel prices are rising rapidly just when travelers are most eager to get back out and explore a post-pandemic world. In all of our tests, we’ve seen such a positive and encouraging response.
Our beta customers are already praising us for helping them stay in those Instagrammable hotels they never thought they could afford, and for reducing the cost of their accommodation by hundreds of dollars. We are gearing up for a massive scale since we know we offer a product that travelers want – the ability to book great hotels at lower prices – and that we will share it with the most travelers by far. It is very rare that both sides – the product and the distribution – are understood from day one.
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