Former Priceline execs debut Plannin, a booking platform that uses travel influencers to help plan trips


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

As the creator economy continues to ramp up in value, estimated to generate $250 billion in revenue, Plannin wants to put a twist on travel booking by using influencers as an alternative to travel agents. 

With Plannin, creators can tell their audience about their latest trip, which hotels they liked and post photos of their travels. To earn income, they share an affiliate link across social platforms for their followers to sign up on Plannin. Meanwhile, travelers can access thousands of creator recommendations and can directly book hotels through the platform.

“One recommendation from the right person is worth more than 1,000 anonymous reviews. It’s about helping people experience travel through creators they trust,” Loewen told TechCrunch. He was previously the chief operating officer at Priceline Partner Network.

What’s most notable about the platform is that it gives creators a 5% lifetime commission, meaning if a follower clicks on their link and continues 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 creators can earn from their audience even if they don’t book that day. The reason we did that is because travel is not an impulse buy. … Many of our bookings happen [15 to 60] days after the original account is created,” Loewen said.

Plannin creatorpage
Image Credits: Plannin

Placing creators at the forefront is a strategic move for Plannin, ensuring a steady flow of content and traffic to the platform. The company also thinks that travelers will benefit from authentic recommendations from influencers they know and trust who share the same interests and tastes.

However, some people may doubt that honest recommendations can come from influencers driven by financial gain. Schartner, who previously was the president of the Priceline Partner Network, doesn’t think it’ll be a problem, though. “You would assume that they would give an honest review because it’s to their audience. … Most people wouldn’t lie or mislead on their personal socials because they have a deeper connection with their audience,” he said.

Plannin has already onboarded over 600 influencers and has about 5,000 posts and 1,500 recommendations on the platform. The company approves creators with more than 10,000 followers, but it may also consider micro-influencers who specialize in travel-focused content. 

PlanninHotel
Image Credits: Plannin

Plannin also has a search capability featuring over 2 million hotels worldwide. The platform integrates with Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline) and Agoda, two of the top travel companies in the space.  

Plannin hopes to become a one-stop booking platform for the entire trip experience. For instance, this summer, it’ll allow creators to recommend restaurants, tours, attractions and other activities. The company will soon partner with GetYourGuide and OpenTable to help travelers book restaurant table reservations and activities in one place. 

Additionally, the platform is launching “Trip Boards” later this month. Creators will be able to curate a full itinerary with all the experiences, hotels, and restaurants from a destination in one place. For example, an influencer can make a trip board based on their recent trip to Italy, showing dozens of places from their favorite cities.

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

The company secured $2.5 million in funding last year, led by Golden Ventures, N49P and former Booking Holdings CEO Jeffery Boyd. The company is looking to raise more venture capital this summer.



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