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Who among us hasn't drooled over travel content posted on Instagram?
Other than the food porn, the ubiquitous fashionista self-promoters, and perhaps the Kardashian clan's incessant Instagram updates in their never-ending quest for attention, travel imagery is what Instagram is best at.
The good news is that now you can do more than wistfully drool over travel stories on Instagram. A little-known start-up, SIX Travel, has just launched the world's first and only platform that lets travelers book hotels directly through Instagram Stories.
In other words, no more spotting a fabulous hotel on Instagram and then leaving the app to track down the hotel's website or visiting some other metasearch site in order to book a room.
With SIX's new app, travelers are able to simply 'swipe up' on Instagram Stories to book one of more than 2,000 hotels - from Paris's Le Pigalle to Stockholm's Nobis Hotel to New York City's EDITION Hotel.
"There's a lot of discovery happening on Instagram and on social and historically people discover something on Instagram, then search and metasearch and 18 browser taps later, they find what they're looking for," Khalid Meniri, co-founder and CEO of SIX Travel, told TravelPulse during a recent interview. "We designed SIX Travel to enable people to book the world's most stylish hotels during their moments of discovery - directly from Instagram Stories with a simple swipe up."
Not only does the app allow for booking it also guarantees that users get the best available rate, said Meniri.
All of which should come in handy at a time when about 68 percent of the 83.1 million millennials are now turning to Instagram to discover and book their travel online, according to the Pew Research Center.
Another feature of the new SIX Travel app is that it provides its hotel partners with insights and metrics to engage with relevant consumers and drive direct bookings, Meniri said.
The app's platform processes data signals in real-time to help hotels evaluate the true value of the countless wannabe Instagram content creators (also referred to as influencers), tracking their performance and measure true ROI from campaigns, helping hotels connect in a meaningful way with the right audiences.
Up until now, there has been no way for hotels to measure how many, if any bookings have come from an influencer's content, Meniri explained.
Given the importance the app is placing on influencers, Meniri said he and his team are working hard to vet and approve those it chooses to feature.
"The influencers are a component of the ecosystem, which has three components - hotels, influencers, and consumers," he continued. "And there has never been a correlation between the three like this before."
As a side note, the influencers whose content appears on the app are being incentivized to drive bookings. They are not paid by SIX Travel, but they receive commissions from bookings.
The hotels on the app, which were handpicked SIX Travel, pay a flat fee to be included. But don't expect to find only luxe, five-star properties being featured.
Meniri said that while there is a distinct focus on stylish properties, that doesn't always mean four or five-star ratings. Just as much emphasis is placed on undiscovered gems or properties that offer a great location.
"We look for context - is it clean? Well designed? Where is it located?" he explained.
And finally, where do travel agents factor into all of this? Meniri said he envisions the new app being useful for them as well.
"I think a lot of younger agents are independent contractors and they are themselves influencers and wanting to travel and discover the world and influence their clientele," he said. "There is definitely an opportunity there for agents."
Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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