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Former Priceline exec debuts Plannin, a booking platform that uses travel influencers to help plan trips

Hotelsbycity.com co-founders and former Priceline executives Andrew Loewen and Randy Schartner have just announced their latest project: Plannin, a global travel booking platform that enables creators to earn money from their hotel recommendations and share travel-focused content.

As the creator economy continues to grow in value and is expected to generate $250 billion in revenue, Plannin hopes to bring a new twist to travel bookings by using influencers as an alternative to travel agents.

With Plannin, creators can tell their audience about their recent trips, which hotels they liked, and post travel photos. To earn income, they share affiliate links on social platforms and ask fans to register on Plannin. At the same time, travelers can access thousands of recommendations from creators and can book hotels directly through the platform.

“One recommendation from the right person is more valuable than 1,000 anonymous reviews. This is about helping people experience travel through creators they trust,” Loewen, who previously served as COO of Priceline Partner Network, told TechCrunch.

What’s most notable about the platform is that it offers creators a 5% lifetime commission, meaning if a follower clicks on their link and goes on to book through Plannin, the creator will earn commission on that account for as long as the account exists.

“We offer a lifetime commission model so that creators can earn money from their audience even if they don’t book that day. We do this because travel is not an impulse purchase. … Many of our bookings are [15 to 60] a few days after the original account was created,” Loewen said.

Image Source: planning

Putting creators first is a strategic move by Plannin to ensure a steady flow of content and traffic to the platform. The company also believes that travelers will benefit from authentic recommendations from influencers they know and trust, who share common interests and tastes.

Some may wonder, however, whether influencers would give honest recommendations for financial gain. However, Schartner, who previously served as president of the Priceline Partner Network, doesn’t think that’s a problem. “You would think they would give an honest review because it’s for their audience. … “Most people won’t lie or mislead in personal social situations because they have a deeper connection with their audience,” he said.

Plannin has onboarded more than 600 influencers, who have generated about 5,000 posts and 1,500 recommendations on the platform. The company will approve creators with more than 10,000 followers, but may also consider micro-influencers who specialize in travel-themed content.

Image Source: planning

Plannin also has a search feature that allows you to search over 2 million hotels worldwide. The platform is integrated with Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline) and Agoda, two of the top travel companies in the space.

Plannin wants to be the one-stop booking platform for the entire travel experience. This summer, for example, it will allow creators to recommend restaurants, tours, attractions, and other activities. The company will soon partner with GetYourGuide and OpenTable to help travelers book restaurant seats and activities in one place.

Additionally, the platform will launch “travel boards” later this month. Creators will be able to curate a complete itinerary in one place, including all the experiences, hotels, and restaurants in a destination. For example, influencers can create a travel board based on their recent trip to Italy, showcasing dozens of their favorite places in the city.

Plannin is still in beta, but an official release is in the works.

The company, which raised $2.5 million last year from investors including Golden Ventures, N49P and former Booking Holdings CEO Jeffery Boyd, hopes to raise more venture capital this summer.

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