See It, Book It: easyJet Taps Instagram Travel Inspiration

Image: Fabián Rivas

What if travelers could go from scrolling through their Instagram feed to snagging a flight to a sunny destination in a couple of taps?

British low-cost carrier easyJet is closing the gap between inspiration and action with its latest app feature, Look&Book. Users need simply screen-grab a photo from Instagram and run it through the airline’s app to receive a location and a prompt to book a flight.

“Customers were using Instagram as a source of inspiration for destination information, but there was no seamless way to go from photo to flight search,” says Daniel Young, easyJet’s head of Digital Experience. Instead, people would find a photo that inspires them, run a Google search to determine its location (if not referenced in the post), then another search to find the nearest airport and airlines that service that destination. “All of that was really clunky and a really drawn out process,” Young adds.

Though Look&Book could technically process any digital image, easyJet is positioning the feature around Instagram because, well, that’s where many of us are getting our travel inspiration anyway. According to the airline, 43 percent of 19- to 28-year-olds use a mobile device to book their holidays, and 28 percent are getting inspiration from either Facebook or Instagram.

In the little over a month since Look&Book launched in October, over 10,000 images were run through the feature. This resulted in 8,600 exact or partially matched photos and 458 bookings, about a five percent conversion rate. “That was way above our expectations. We are pretty astonished by that figure,” Young says.

While it’s still early days for this kind of technology, Young predicts photo search to someday become so good that it won’t have to use the kind of reliable and structured information Instagram photos provide. “I can totally imagine a potential customer standing on a train station platform, seeing a billboard of a really nice holiday destination, pointing their camera at it and then pressing a button that says ‘Fly me there.’” 

“See It, Book It” was originally published in the 9.1 February/March issue of APEX Experience magazine.