Lonely Planet Pioneers “Bookable Content” with AI-Tech Travel Start-Up, TRILL Travel
Lonely Planet announces the acquisition of TRILL Travel, becoming the first global brand to convert influencers’ digital content into bookable experiences. Leveraging AI technology, TRILL analyzes pictures and automatically creates links to booking sites. This allows users to book a hotel, experience, or table at a restaurant by simply touching a picture. With this acquisition, Lonely Planet is bridging the gap between those wanderlusting and those on the road by streamlining the booking process through a powerful visual search mechanism.
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Recognizing the significance of influencers in today’s world, Lonely Planet continues to transform its platform through continued collaboration with expert voices and curators. “We are looking at this acquisition from an asset perspective – we want to incorporate TRILL´s tech and capabilities into our digital products and soon reimagine our Pathfinders program,” says President and CEO, Luis Cabrera. This is the second acquisition that Lonely Planet has done since Cabrera joined the company in early February 2019. “TRILL is another example of how we strive to enable a seamless user journey and interaction between influencers posting content, consumers looking for adventure, and our travel partners,” he added.
To attract and incentivize influencers, Lonely Planet will also adopt TRILL´s revenue share model, which automatically pays out commissions for confirmed bookings tied to each individual post. “This dual-sided marketplace helps travel brands drive direct bookings through organic social content, and acts as a monetization platform for content creators,” said Cabrera. By combining Lonely Planet´s Pathfinders with TRILL´s current tastemakers, Lonely Planet is poised to have one of the largest influencer networks in the market.
“About 70% of Instagram content is travel related, and consumers are constantly looking to recreate these experiences. I also saw a large movement in socially driven commerce, especially in the fashion space, and thought, why can’t this be done in travel? Let’s put these pieces together,” says TRILL’s Founder & CEO, Eric Shepard. Shepard comes from a background of music, tech and travel companies and was recently named one of Phocuswright’s 35 under 35 for most influential people in travel technology.
Reporting directly to Cabrera, Shepard will play a large role in Lonely Planet’s venture experiments going forward. His first initiative will be integrating TRILL’s technology and model into Lonely Planet’s digital properties, then focusing on finding further transformative adjacent spaces in travel. In response to the new role, Shepard states, “Lonely Planet is the perfect platform to fully realize the potential of TRILL. I’m extremely excited to be part of this new chapter at Lonely Planet and look forward to finding other ‘TRILLs’ out there looking to push the envelope and thrive.”