Guidebook publisher Lonely Planet has acquired Trill Travel to turn its visual content into bookable links.
Trill analyses pictures and automatically creates links to booking sites through artificial intelligence (AI) technology, allowing users to book a hotel, experience or table at a restaurant by touching a picture.
With this acquisition, Lonely Planet said it is bridging the gap between those “wanderlusting” and those on the road by streamlining the booking process through a powerful visual search mechanism.
President and chief executive of Lonely Planet Luis Cabrera said: “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.”
This is the second acquisition that Lonely Planet has done since Cabrera joined the company in early February 2019.
Cabrera continued: “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.”
To attract and incentivise influencers, Lonely Planet will also adopt Trill´s revenue share model, which automatically pays out commissions for confirmed bookings tied to each individual post.
Cabrera added: “This dual-sided marketplace helps travel brands drive direct bookings through organic social content, and acts as a monetisation platform for content creators.”
According to the travel media company, 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.
Trill’s founder and chief executive Eric Shepard said: “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.”
Shepard comes from a background of music, technology 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’s first initiative will be integrating Trill’s technology and model into Lonely Planet’s digital properties, then he will focus on finding further transformative adjacent spaces in travel.
Shepard added: “Lonely Planet is the perfect platform to fully realise 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.”