There was a time when the adventure of travel was inspired by the recanting of tales from far-off lands. In written form, novels once fueled imaginations and drove the desire to travel. Then came glossy travel magazines, specialised television shows, many, many, websites, and now today, social media and short-form videos lay claim to the source of travel discovery.
And yet, while this format can deliver an almost instantaneous spark of “Oooo, that looks amazing, let’s go!”, according to research conducted by Hotels.com, the average person spends more than 10 hours planning a holiday, and begins to lose interest in the process after 42 minutes.
Bridging the gap
Looking to close the gap between discovery and completion of the booking process, all within a format travel seekers are most familiar with, is Berlin-based startup Layla.
Fusing the appeal of short-form travel video and the power of AI, Layla is helping would-be travelers not only discover where they want to go, where to stay, and what to do on their next adventure, but helping them seal the deal then and there.
"Travel discovery has been broken for decades. People today get inspired by short-form videos on social media first and foremost, but there is no way to turn this inspiration into a trip.
“We want to help users discover the perfect places by bridging the gap between social media, planning, and booking." — Layla co-founder Jeremy Jauncey.
And they’ve just announced a €3 million Seed round to help fuel the next phase of development of the company.
Experience and reach
The round was led by Firstminute Capital, the firm established by lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman, and Los Angeles-based M13, historic backers of Snap, Matterport, Ring, and Lyft.
The €3 million Seed round also drew the participation of Booking.com’s Andy Phillips, Skyscanner’s Bary Smith, and Paris Hilton. Yes, the Paris Hilton.
And while at first glance the company’s first product, aptly named Layla, might appear to be just another chatbot the lineage behind it is anything but.
Building upon co-founder Saad Saeed’s experience as co-founder and director of technology at speedy grocery service outfit Flink, and Jeremy Jauncey’s experience as founder of Beautiful Destinations, a travel-focused creative agency that counts over 26 million followers on Instagram, and combined with the investment team’s knowhow and reach, Layla could very well get me begging please.
Lead image: tawatchai07