Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Ideas

IDEAS: GuideGeek Launches AI-powered Travel Assistant on Instagram

7 months ago

GuideGeek, the AI travel assistant powered by Matador Network, has now launched on Instagram.

The service, which has been available on WhatsApp for some time, is now available to support Instagram savvy travelers looking for insights and advice when planning and researching their trips, with the AI assistant responding to direct messages in real-time. 

Credit: GuideGeek

In order to engage with GuideGeek on Instagram, users simply need to head to the profile, tap ‘message’ and send their query. The AI assistant will then respond directly within their messages. 

Since launch, the @guidegeek.ai Instagram account has already amassed an impressive 1.3M followers at the time of writing.

According to a release from GuideGeek, the service has already ‘aided travelers all over the world, in over 32 languages, to find accommodations and restaurants, customize itineraries, learn about local experiences and tours, and much more.’

“Social media is how people get inspired these days, but planning trips to places you see on Instagram can be tedious. By integrating GuideGeek with Instagram, millions more people will now get detailed information about the places they want to go without leaving the platform they love so much,” says Ross Borden, CEO of Matador Network.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Uncategorized

Trainline Teams With David Hasselhoff in New Celeb-Focused Marketing

11 months ago

Hotel brands are well known for their marketing partnerships with influencers and celebrities, but now one rail booking platform is getting in on the act.

Trainline has decided to team up with legendary actor David Hasselhoff to launch its Chief Conductor Contest.

A grand prize includes a $5,000 travel stipend, a two-night stay in a luxury hotel, and $2,500 in Trainline vouchers to cover rail travel across Europe — in addition to signed merchandise.

The company thinks that with European travel booming, and the U.S. dollar remaining strong, now’s the time to get The Hoff (and his 326,000 Instagram followers) onboard. 

According to data by Trainline, 33 percent of Americans are looking to travel to Europe this summer and 42 percent would be excited to travel through Europe by train to take in the landscape. But even beyond trains as a desired mode of transportation, over half of Americans are somewhat or very likely to plan elements of their vacations based on where their favorite influencers/celebrities visit.

This is where Hasselhoff comes in.

Consumers will also have the opportunity to hear his train travel tips, tricks and itineraries, as well as get a sneak peek into some of the actor’s favorite destinations.

With lots of industry players competing to win bookings, Trainline is just the latest in a handful of travel companies employing celebrity partnerships to promote their brands.

Hilton, for example, collaborated with Paris Hilton on a 10-minute TikTok video. “It’s an experiment and a bit fun,” Chris Silcock, Hilton’s chief commercial officer, said at the Skift Future of Lodging Forum recently. “We’re trying to be more culturally relevant and in the stream. We’re approaching 40 million views of the video and it’s doing well.”

Travel Booking

Hostelworld Projects Return to Profit After New Social Networking Feature Slashes Ad Spending

1 year ago

Online travel agent Hostelworld is predicting a return to profit by the end of this year, thanks in part to its app’s new social networking feature, which it launched in April

The company struggled through the pandemic, which shut down large parts of core market Asia, as backpackers avoided hostel dormitories. In 2021 it reported a loss of $36.7 million in 2021. 

But in a trading update on Oct. 12, it said it was well positioned for “profitable growth” after a new social strategy produced more sales, and lowered marketing costs.

“Since launching our innovative and differentiated social network strategy earlier this year, we have seen strong growth week over week in the number of customers signing up to our app based social platform when they make a booking with us,” the company said.

In particular its “Solo System” helps solo travelers meet other guests. As of the end of September, almost 50 percent of all its customers had signed up to the platform, driving a significant increase in the volume of bookings.

Bookings in September reached 83 percent of 2019 levels, and were also boosted by the continuing recovery of Asia and Oceania regions, which were now at 70 percent of 2019 levels, up from 43 percent in June, Hostelworld said.

Net revenue in September reached 104 percent of 2019 levels.

“Social strategy is delivering margin growth well ahead of expectations, with marketing as a percentage of net revenue expected to improve from 70 percent in the first half to approximately 55 percent in the second half,” it added.

It now expects to end the year “modestly EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) positive and with a stronger cash position than originally expected.”

“I am very pleased with the positive trends we are seeing from our innovative ‘Social’ strategy which is driving more customers to use our apps, and reduced marketing as a percentage of net revenue,” said group CEO Gary Morrison.

“Socializing” a travel booking app has also worked for Hopper. Speaking at Skift Global Forum in September, CEO Frederic Lalonde said the company had slashed its marketing spend, after becoming TikTok’s biggest spender on advertising in 2021 in the U.S.

“Today, our paid spend is almost at zero. We are giving the same money we gave to Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok to our customers in the form of tree watering games,” he said.

Tourism

Nepal Bars TikTokers From Some Tourist Sites

2 years ago

Nepal’s would-be social media influencers would now have to scout for new locations as the country has barred shooting of TikTok videos at some heritage sites.

Popular tourist sites in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, including Boudhanath Stupa, the Ram Janaki temple and Gadhimai temple as well as the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Lumbini now display signs reading “No TikTok.”

Owned by the China-based tech giant ByteDance, TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps in Nepal. According to a 2022 survey, more than 55 percent of respondent in Nepal said they had been using the app.

“Don’t make ads, make TikToks,” says a new campaign launched by TikTok for Business. The app is one of fastest growing social media platforms with over a billion users. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the app every day.

Many in Nepal blame TikTokers for creating a nuisance by playing loud music at sites frequented by pilgrims from all over the world, according to a Rest of World report. The same tourists, who some believe frequent these places after watching such TikTok videos.

Studies have revealed that travelers are increasingly relying on social media to make their travel choices. However, reports also state the impact of sudden destination popularity through social media.

The local community at in Hainan Island’s Tropical Rainforest National Park have had to deal with a massive tourist flow after various TikTok videos went viral.

Travel Technology

Snap Is Launching Dynamic Travel Ads Globally to Target Gen Z Vacationers

2 years ago

Snap claimed Etihad trimmed its “costs per flight search” four-fold using Snap’s new dynamic travel ads, which is now rolled out globally.

This ad format, according to Snap, is a travel category expansion that enables advertisers, including airlines, hotels, destinations and tour operators, to engage in advanced audience targeting based on a Snapchatter’s travel intent and backed by local relevance.”

“With travel demand seeing a continued strong recovery in Q1 2022, we were of course keen to capitalize by converting existing customers and, importantly, acquiring new ones,” Phil Dodwell, who heads marketing at Etihad, said in a statement. “However, the marketplace for air travel remains highly competitive so ensuring relevance is key.”

He said the airline will be continuing to use Snap’s dynamic travel ads in the second quarter, and particularly likes the format’s prospecting capabilities.

Snap’s prime users are Gen Zers and Millennials.