A new application called Sherpa launching this week believes that some of the best travel ideas can be found on Instagram. The iOS application curates photos from top Instagram photographers and turns them into visual travel guides that are augmented with data from other services, like Foursquare and Wikipedia.
“The idea for Sherpa was to use the photos we already share everyday to create a travel planning experience that is more authentic, emotionally resonant, and easy to contribute to,” says Sherpa co-founder and CEO Paul Aaron.
The startup is currently working with more than 2,000 Instagram photographers — or, as it calls them, “micro-influencers” — across 90 countries.
Sherpa takes their content and turns it into guides that appeal to a variety of types of travelers — ranging from backpackers to adventurers to luxury travelers and more. At launch, more than 500,000 geotagged photos have been organized into 15,000 travel guides that are presented in the app as albums. As you browse the app, you can save to your “suitcase” photos of places you want to go, and, by doing so, Sherpa will begin to boost destinations related to those photos to personalize the content to your interests.
“Eventually, every photo you see on Sherpa will be bookable, and you’ll be able to search for trending hotels, or book the amazing off-the-beaten path trip that a travel photographer you follow has gone on,” notes Aaron. “As the platform grows, we’ll monetize these bookings just like an online travel agency does.”
The app is a free download on the Apple App Store.