The next big travel app is… Instagram?

Instagram has long reigned supreme as the go-to source of travel inspiration, thanks to the slew of travel influencers, writers, and photographers pedaling their best (albeit filtered) shots to the masses. A search for #travel on the platform today yields 629 million results. It has even been criticized for creating “unrealistic travel expectations” and “sucking the spontaneity out of travel”.

But investors are willing to bet that’s about to change, as evidenced by the recent $10.3 million venture capital round just closed by Tripscout. Tripscout, in its current form, is a travel inspiration, planning, and booking platform that helps travelers “turn their wanderlust into their next trip.” On Thursday, according to a new report from Skift, Tripscout launched an Instagram booking platform, simply called @Hotel. In other words, you can now officially book a hotel room through Instagram.

“The fact that we have 30 million subscribers opens up a whole new channel,” said Tripscout CEO Konrad Waliszewski. “It’s the channel of the future. TripAdvisor had mastered search engine optimization in the early days of Google. We do it for Instagram.

The idea is that by DMing the word “hotel” to Tripscout’s Instagram accounts, users will be able to trigger discounts – ranging from 25-75% off – on tens of thousands of properties, thanks to their partnerships with Hotelbeds and Hotel planner. This will trigger a response from a chatbot, which will provide a private booking link with the best deal available. By using the chatbot, they can circumvent rules that typically force online travel agencies (OTAs) to post similar prices.

Investors aren’t the only ones who think this makes sense, either. “As consumers devote more time and attention to social media, there is clearly an opportunity for new players to give consumers better tools,” said Mauricio Prieto, who writes the Travel Tech Essentialist sub-stack, in Skift. “Tripscout seems to have found a smart way to solve the customer acquisition challenge before it even launched.

Of course, Tripscout isn’t the first company to attempt an Instagram foray. Some have relied on geolocation to suggest flights, while others have used the Stories feature to help users book. But while all have proven useful for various reasons, none have really taken off significantly, which in theory means the opportunity is ripe for the picking – for Tripscout or someone else.

About Sandra A. Powell

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