Can the new Lonely Planet app compete with Instagram?

Lara Williams

Lara Williams, Editor-at-large

The travel guide already has a mass following, but can its new photo-sharing app offer an experience to beat Instagram’s?

Odds are, if you’ve taken a trip recently, you probably enjoyed posting your envy-inducing photographs on Instagram.

Now however, Lonely Planet is hoping you’ll share your holiday snaps with them via their new app, Trips.

With a focus on photography sharing, the comparisons with Instagram are too easy to make, but how does the travel brand expect to compete with one of the biggest social apps out there?

trips travel lonely planet tech app

Source: Lonely Planet

Story Telling

Trips lets you post multiple photos alongside personalised maps of your travels and, if you like, prose. This can consist of short, snappy captions or a detailed narrative of your journey.

CEO Daniel Houghton told Fastcompany that the app is: “really travel inspiration, and helping people decide where they want to go just to learn about the world…some of the stories we’ve seen are really editorial and incredible narratives.”

Indeed, the quality of photographs on the Discover section, split into different categories such as “Adventure”, “Road Trips” and “Cities”, will surely inspire wanderlust in anybody.

User Experience

As always, the key lies in the user experience – and Lonely Planet knew what to leave out to create an effective, intuitive app.

The travel guide know they can’t compete with users’ favourite photo-editing apps and therefore left those features to the professionals like VSCO and Instagram. Omitting these features makes the post-creation process quick and intuitive.

When done, the post comes out looking polished and not unlike their Guides app, which provides expert advice and inspiration.

It’s satisfyingly easy to create a story that looks professional. The design turns the passionate holidayer into an inspirational travel writer – aligning the average user with their travel experts – and that’s something that could keep users coming back.

trips lonely planet app interface

Source: Lonely Planet

The Lonely Planet Community

Lonely Planet was one of the first travel brands to embrace the internet, and one of the first third-party apps on the iPhone, so it’s almost surprising that Trips is their first venture into user-generated content.

The question might be, how will they convert users from Instagram, but it seems they may have a ready-made set of users at their fingertips already.

Their travel forum Thorn Tree is 21-years old. With a brand-loyal community already in existence on the forum, you can expect these to be some of the first adopters of Trips.

trips app lonely planet tech travel

Source: Lonely Planet

In order to compete, Trips has to stand out and offer something different to Instagram and Houghton is banking on it coming out of this ready-made community. Yet what really differs is the type of content.

While posting reams of text and images on Instagram or Facebook would be considered spam, Trips encourages it. It’s a space where users can thoughtfully curate galleries documenting their holiday – whether that’s for the public or just family and friends. Until now, there’s not been a travel-orientated place for that.

More travel journal than moment sharing, Trips won’t compete with the big players, but complement them, giving the real travel junkies a space to become photojournalists and travel writers.

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