Ever seen yourself scrolling through Instagram, looking at amazing holiday photos of your friends and you were there? Well now that you think there can be easy, thanks to easyJet’s latest in-app innovation, look and book.
With the world’s first visual travel booking tool, you can book a vacation from a photo. From establishing the idea in the market in just six months, here’s the secret to how we built it — Microsoft Azure Image AI technology.
Every brand wants to launch the next big innovation, but no one really knows how it happens or wants to risk the budget. So how do you find useful and consumer focused innovation for brands?
Obviously, you need a brilliant idea to get started. But the hard part usually comes after your light-bulb moment.
In view of the recent success of Look & Book within the EasyJet Travel app, we will share some of the reasons we managed to get our product live in just six months.
Thoughts can come from anywhere, anytime. I was on a wellness holiday in Portugal, trying to be the best millennium I could be, and posting pictures of my travels on Instagram. A friend’s comment on one of my photos caught my attention.
She mentioned the intention of booking a normal holiday, which you often see when people post pictures of their vacation: “However these photos. I really want to go! The idea about the Look and Book app came when my curious friend stated that he was already researching about the trip.
It got me thinking. If, after looking at my photo, my friend is convinced that this is where she wants to go for her next vacation, then surely there must be a simple way to book it? In the world of visual inspiration, why didn’t we have visual bookings?
Ambition then became a shortcut booking for the Instagram generation. This will easily lead to the most inspiration that generates peer-to-peer social content. Picture of an Instagram post that sparked the idea of a look and book app
Creating the simplest user journey possible
We need to make sure that users will have a seamless experience, transitioning from Instagram to the easyJet app. The simplest journey was to take a screenshot of the holiday photo from Instagram and upload it to the easyJet app.
We used the existing infrastructure within the easyJet app with regard to booking features, and, importantly, dynamic pricing. If we had not done so, we would have faced a major stumbling block — dynamic pricing for airline flights is so complex and time-sensitive that it is currently impossible to change it within another platform such as Instagram.
Finding the right technology
Now that we had the idea and mapped the user journey, we needed the technology to do so. Initial research involved meeting companies that did “visual search”, but it quickly transpired that no company could provide us with the necessary solutions. So we decided to make it as a prototype.
Using apps with built-in intelligence helps create a truly personalized experience for the consumer that pleases and energizes them. After evaluating available technology, Microsoft Azure came out on top. With its powerful cognitive services as well as an extensive set of infrastructure and tools, it was the best place for us to develop the Look and Book app.
Along with sorting image recognition, we married this with other technology including optical technology recognition, photo EXIF data recognition, geolocation identification, and eGate’s database airport. In this way we built a sophisticated back-end system, which would quickly identify where the photo was taken and what flights were available to get you there.
In order to finalize the business case and bring our idea to life, we needed to ensure the prototype. We tested 25,000 randomly selected holiday pictures and 500 Instagram screenshots. The result was an 88% success rate, and the ability to improve on it over time. We learned a lot from testing, especially around ensuring the parameters for capturing things like duplication of place names. Who knew there was an Ibiza in South America too!
Test, fix and test again
Our small team spent the next four months in building construction, testing, fixing, improving and re-testing. After extensive cycles of feedback and testing, we were finally ready to take the plunge and survive.
It is important to always give enough time for this phase. Try to predict where things can go wrong and work around them.