Fotopedia, the company founded in 2008 by former Apple application architect Jean-Marie Hullot, today unveiled a new direct hotel booking integration through Expedia Hotels into its two top downloaded apps for iOS devices, Fotopedia Paris and Fotopedia Japan. The move marks the pilot test of a new monetization avenue for Fotopedia, in the form of what seems like a natural partnership, since Fotopedia’s photo-laden apps already take iPad owners on virtual tours of the cities and countries they feature.
For Fotopedia, which offers its apps for free and includes sponsorships and ads to drive revenue, this partnership could become the next stage in terms of helping it open up new ways to capitalize on its significant audience and growth. The startup announced in May that it now sees 200 million photo views per month, and that its apps have now been downloaded over 12 million times. It’s also been very consistent in terms of delivering new products, each of which tends to focus on a new city or part of the world. Now, teaming up with Expedia will help them leverage the attention and audience they’ve managed to capture into additional revenue via affiliate commissions on hotel bookings made through their app.
“Expedia has a number of mobile apps, from our perspective they do a very good job in mobile,” explained Fotopedia SVP of Global Business Christopher Daligault in an interview. “The app we’re integrating with is Expedia Hotels, which is available on the iPhone and the iPad, it’s already optimized for the iPad display, and they also have the largest selection in terms of giving you access to 140,000 hotels around the world.”
Daligault also praised Expedia’s attention to user experience in their apps, which he said is something that’s especially important to Fotopedia (the company has been singled out multiple times by Apple and others and praised for its user experience design). It was also important to Fotopedia that Expedia’s audience is global, since that’s something the photo-focused app-maker prides itself on. Above all else, Fotopedia was looking for a route to greater monetization that would allow them to continue to deliver a high-caliber product and offer something that would be useful to its users.
“What we realize is there’s really a lot of appetite for our product, but being a startup, at some point you have to make money, you can’t just rely on your investors all the time,” Daligault told us. “Because we have such a high standard of quality for the user experience, the question was how do we bring in partners that help us make money without ruining the user experience.”
On Expedia’s side, Daligault noted that travel sites are increasingly seeing traffic driven via mobile channels, and in fact he said that around 20 percent of all traffic to travel booking sites already comes from mobile devices, and that’s among sites that don’t have mobile-optimized sites. Naturally, travel businesses are keen to take advantage of that growing trend, so partnerships make a lot of sense. This is only a first step in that direction, according to Daligault, and Fotopedia will consider extending the Expedia partnership to its nine other apps if it works out, and also look around at other travel partners that might fit well with their offerings, so long as they add to, rather than detract from, user experience.
Fotopedia has managed to inspire a lot of aspiring travelers with its beautiful iOS apps, and now that the time has come to ramp up monetization, it’s good to see them taking a cautious approach that prioritizes user experience. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how users respond to this new direct inclusion of a sales conversion opportunity, and whether or not they agree that the integration makes as much sense as it appears to on the surface.