Luxury Travel Hackers makes vacations bookable via social media

By Meera Sastry

Luxury Travel Hackers is a Santa Monica-based startup that produces travel content with influencers and makes vacations bookable via social media.

Luxury Travel Hackers is seeking to redefine the travel industry for the Instagram era.

The Santa Monica-based company is pioneering a new model of travel planning by integrating the business of booking trips with the untapped gold mine of advertising material that is social media influencers.

As co-founder Gary Kohn described, “80% of all millennials are choosing their next vacation on social media, but nobody was really leveraging that influence.” When Kohn, a former producer for film and television, and his co-founder, Katie Warner, noticed this empty niche in the travel industry, they sought to fill it — and thus Luxury Travel Hackers was born.

“We look to these influencers to see and make decisions around where we want to go,” Kohn said. “But people are spending hours of additional research to build a vacation that was just presented to them on social media. That’s the big problem we’re solving — people wanting to purchase something they’re seeing and not being able to.”

The company seeks to fold the browsing and buying processes into one by, in Kohn’s words, “Shooting and repurposing travel content with influencers and making vacations clickable via social media.” To break this down further, consider Luxury Travel Hackers as a three-pronged venture — two of which being the way their content interfaces with social media influencers, and the third being their booking platform itself.

In terms of their work with the influencers themselves, Luxury Travel Hackers seeks to both build a unique brand of their own — by employing “brand ambassadors” — and take advantage of the preexisting audiences many established influencers already have by partnering with them.

With regard to the first aim, which functions as their primary model, Luxury Travel Hackers has about half a dozen brand ambassadors, each of which specializes in a certain area such as family, wellness or adventure.

“We (at Luxury Travel Hackers) produce all of that content ourselves,” Kohn said.

“We put together the packages, the trips, we go on the vacation with them and shoot and edit everything.”

On the other hand, Luxury Travel Hackers also employs a “repurposing” model, where they partner with travel influencers who already do this kind of marketing for a living and design trips around destinations that they’ve traveled to, thus allowing these influencers to generate some passive income from their completed content and Luxury Travel Hackers to expand their reach.

What ties these two approaches together is the Luxury Travel Hackers booking platform, which allows customers to move directly from seeing travel content on their feeds to arranging and purchasing the experiences depicted therein.

Right now, this is accomplished by linking from social media pages to the Luxury Travel Hackers website, where travelers can find an array of all-inclusive, door-to-door packages for destinations ranging from Iceland to Cuba — Kohn’s personal favorite is Belize.

He anticipates that as the company expands, they will work on technologically advancing their platform in order to “remove the human element from the concierge service system,” which would allow customers to build their own trips from a menu of cities and activities without ever having to speak to a travel agent.

In addition to their unique design, Kohn said Luxury Travel Hackers is distinct from other travel companies in its commitment to “finding hidden gems and boutique destinations,” as the packages they offer seek to stray away from the beaten path while upholding the standard of the “luxury” label.
“We really want to be trendsetters,” Kohn said.

“Especially in the Instagram and social media world, most of the places that go viral do so because of the content — the way someone was able to show that beautiful experience. And so that’s what we do that’s unique, that really separates us from your average big (travel) brands.”
Luxury Travel Hackers is also sensitive to the cultural and environmental concerns that come along with its product.

“With travel, it’s almost impossible to be a 100% sustainable brand,” Kohn said.

“But responsible tourism is something we really like to promote as a brand: alleviating the carbon footprint that travel creates, understanding and integrating into cultural experiences.”

Luxury Travel Hackers is at the tail end of its seed round of funding; its next step will be in the late fall of this year when it launches another round of crowd investing.

To see where Luxury Travel Hackers goes — and to book a vacation — visit Instagram @luxurytravelhackers or visit luxurytravelhackers.com.

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