The Next Big Travel App Is…Instagram?

Investors think it could be the next Google for travel-related searches

A man holding a phone with the Instagram app pulled up. Is Instagram the next big thing in travel?
Where would you rather book a hotel: through Google or your Instagram feed?

Long has Instagram reigned as the go-to source for travel inspo, thanks to the sheer number of travel influencers, writers and photographers pedaling their best (albeit filtered) snaps to the masses. A search for #travel on the platform today yields a whopping 629 million results. It’s even been criticized for creating “unrealistic travel expectations” and “sucking the spontaneity out of travel.”

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

“Our having 30 million followers opens a whole new channel,” Tripscout CEO Konrad Waliszewski said. “It’s the channel of the future. TripAdvisor mastered search-engine optimization in the early days of Google. We’re doing that for Instagram.”

The idea is that by DMing the word “hotel” to Tripscout’s Instagram accounts, users will be able to trigger discounts — said to range from anywhere from 25-75% off — across tens of thousands of properties, thanks to their partnerships with Hotelbeds and HotelPlanner. That will prompt a response from a chatbot, that will provide a private booking link with the best available deal. In using the chatbot, they can circumvent the rules that generally require online travel agencies (OTAs) to advertise similar prices.

Investors aren’t the only ones who think this makes sense, either. “As more consumer time and attention goes to social media, there is clearly an opportunity for new players to give consumers better tools,” Mauricio Prieto, who writes the Travel Tech Essentialist substack, told Skift. “Tripscout seems to have found a smart way of solving the customer acquisition challenge even before its launch.”

Of course, Tripscout is hardly the first company to attempt a foray into the Instagram realm. Some have relied on geolocation to suggest flights, while others have utilized the Stories feature to help users book. But while all have proven useful for various reasons, none have really taken off in any meaningful way, which in theory means the opportunity is ripe for the picking — for Tripscout or someone else.


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