easyJet has launched a new feature in its app that lets you upload screenshots of celebrities, friends and family on holiday to find out where they went and how to get there.
Look&Book, which is part of the airline’s travel mobile app, uses Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and image recognition technology to identify where the photo was taken. easyJet then finds the nearest airport to that location and available flights.
easyJet teamed up with creative agency VCCP and their mobile development partners Travelport Digital to launch the feature following the surge in the number of holidaymakers who find their next destination after seeing pictures on social media sites. Research from travel site Expedia found that one-in-four millennials (those aged 18 to 34) were influenced by Instagram posts when booking trips abroad.
“People use mobile more than ever to search for their next trip and social media sites provide an excellent source of inspiration from celebrities and friends,” said Daniel Young, Head of Digital Experience at easyJet. “Before we launched Look&Book, our customers had the laborious task of trying to establish where a picture was taken by researching nearest airports and which airlines fly there. We’ve now made that process seamless, easier and more fun.”
Look&Book has been used thousands of times since its launch in October, leading to hundreds of bookings, proving visual search is popular with customers.
It works by taking an uploaded picture – any image will do but Instagram posts work best – and using Microsoft’s object cognitive recognition or image analysis software to spot landmarks or other unique features. It also reads hashtags that were added to the original post. The tool then tries to match the image to a similar one stored in the Microsoft Azure cloud computing database. Once easyJet has a match, it delivers the information back to the app user, along with the nearest destination airport and available flights – all in around four seconds.
If the system can’t find the exact location, because it is very remote or there are no identifiable landmarks, easyJet will suggest similar, popular destinations. If the destination is outside of easyJet’s European network, it will offer connecting flights through Worldwide by easyJet.
“It’s so powerful because the inspiration is coming from your peers,” said Alex Dalman, Senior Account Director at VCCP. “The Kardashians have a huge following on Instagram. They went to Iceland a few years ago and suddenly everyone was going there on holiday.”
Look&Book is currently only available in the UK on iOS devices but its success has led easyJet to look at rolling it out to other operating systems and European markets this year.