Arlo Hotels Aims to Turn Influencers into Travel Agents with Launch of New App

By leveraging the power of social media, Arlo Hotels is seeking to pioneer a new distribution channel that, according to the company, promises a more relevant and engaging way for consumers to discover and book their next hotel stay.
By HTN Staff - 3.8.2024

The term “travel agent” might evoke outdated images of shoulder pads, strip malls, corded telephones, and bulky cathode-ray tube monitors for some. This perception has been fueled by the rise of online booking platforms, leading many industry observers to forecast the end of traditional travel agents. Contrary to these predictions, however, the travel agency sector remains robust, valued at approximately $72 billion in the United States and over $450 billion worldwide. Far from vanishing, many travel agents have transitioned from the conventional office setting to the digital realm, trading in their old equipment for ring lights and smartphones.

Influencers have emerged as a modern iteration of travel agents, guiding audiences towards their next destination and shaping their travel experiences. The digital age has seen a surge in the influence of social media on travel decisions, with TikTok’s “travel” hashtag amassing over 185 billion views and Instagram’s equivalent reaching 700 million posts. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger audiences, with approximately 40% of users aged 18-24 turning to platforms like TikTok and Instagram for travel inspiration, even before consulting traditional search engines like Google.

While the abundance of travel content on these platforms serves as a rich source of inspiration, there’s a notable gap in the infrastructure needed to translate this inspiration into actionable travel plans. Influencers, despite their significant impact on travel decisions, often lack straightforward mechanisms to monetize their influence. Similarly, followers seeking to emulate the experiences of their favorite influencers encounter difficulties in finding the necessary details to do so. The tools available to traditional travel agents, designed for direct, one-on-one transactions, do not cater to the one-to-many interactions that define the relationship between content creators and their communities.

Recognizing this gap, a new wave of startups is stepping in to bridge the divide, developing tools specifically aimed at enabling content creators to monetize their influence effectively. Hospitality brands are taking note. One such brand is Arlo Hotels, a lifestyle hotel brand known for its properties in New York, Miami, Chicago, and an upcoming location in Washington D.C. The company has launched If You Arlo (IYA) app, a loyalty program that seeks to introduce a new era of travel, where traditional travel agents are replaced by a network of social media influencers, friends, family, and content creators. These social media agents drive bookings while earning various perks, including credits, status, and surprise rewards at Arlo Hotels.

The initiative is based on the understanding that social media significantly influences travelers’ decisions, with 83% of millennials more likely to book a hotel after seeing images from someone they follow on social media. Arlo Hotels aims to capitalize on this trend by rewarding those who influence their guests’ decision-making process through the IYA app. This program allows influencers to share exclusive discounts and insider tips with their followers, fostering a community-driven approach to hospitality.

According to Jimmy Suh, Chief Commercial Officer at Arlo Hotels, the new app provides influencers with the infrastructure to monetize their passion for travel and Arlo Hotels. The app aims to bridge the distribution gap faced by independent lifestyle hotels compared to larger chains, offering a more personalized and authentic insight into the unique stay experiences these hotels provide.

The IYA app is available for download from the Apple App Store, with a Google Play version expected later. Interested individuals can join the waitlist to become a social media agent for Arlo Hotels. Once approved, agents can share their unique IYA code to accrue points towards future savings and rewards at any Arlo hotel location.

This innovative approach by Arlo Hotels not only empowers influencers but also addresses the challenges faced by independent hotels in competing with larger chains. By leveraging the power of social media, Arlo Hotels is seeking to pioneer a new distribution channel that, according to the company, promises a more relevant and engaging way for consumers to discover and book their next hotel stay.