Lonely Planet has acquired TRILL Travel, an artificial intelligence-driven travel marketplace that turns Instagram posts into bookable experiences.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The travel guide brand will use TRILL’s technology - which analyses images and creates links to booking sites for hotels, experiences or restaurants - to make content on the Lonely Planet platform bookable.
“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 Lonely Planet president and CEO Luis Cabrera.
The Pathfinders program is the guidebook’s network of “travel experts.” By combining that with TRILL’s “tastemakers” network - comprising digital influencers who are rewarded with cash every time a user books from their post - Lonely Planet hopes to create “one of the largest influencer networks in the market.”
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Lonely Planet will adopt TRILL’s revenue share model, which automatically pays out commissions for confirmed bookings tied to each individual post.
Although Lonely Planet has offered travel booking for a number of years using partners including Skyscanner and Booking.com, Cabrera says TRILL’s model and “dual-sided marketplace helps travel brands drive direct bookings through organic social content, and acts as a monetization platform for content creators.”
TRILL founder and CEO Eric Shepard - who in June participated in PhocusWire’s Startup Stage and in 2017 was named one of Phocuswright’s Young Leaders - will report to Cabrera. He will be tasked with integrating TRILL’s technology and model into Lonely Planet’s digital properties.
The acquisition comes as travel guidebook publishers struggle to figure out where they fit in the evolving digital landscape. For Lonely Planet, TRILL is the second acquisition since Cabrera assumed the role of CEO, following the platform’s purchase of destination content specialist ArrivalGuides in February.