PLAYA DEL REY, Calif. — In 2014, the travel app Steller received the ultimate tech prize —Apple deemed it one of the apps of the year.
But then magic didn’t follow. Hundreds and thousands of downloads that were expected didn’t materialize. But the original founder Richard McAniff never gave up, and brought in three investors to revive the brand in summer 2018: Richard Bangs, a founding executive with Expedia, entrepreneur Pete Bryant and investor Scott Greenberg joined him.
Their mission: to convince the massive group of travelers who post their vacation photos on Instagram that an app that’s devoted to pure travel can tell a better story of your trip. Stories on Steller can include video, audio and text as well as outbound links, which Instagram frowns upon.
The upshot: Steller’s audience has tripled since the new attention came to the app a year ago, now topping 3 million downloads, which Bangs says is a little misleading, since most users share stories all over the web, bringing the average audience to more like 14 million.
“We’re just a sliver of Instagram, and know we have a long ways to go,” says Bangs, who serves the Chief Adventure Officer. “But the trend is in the right direction.”
One twist Bangs brought to Steller was reviving the old “Day in the Life” photo project, popularized in 1980s books, to digital media. He recently staged a “Day in the Life of Ireland,” using 27 online influencers to let loose over the country, posting stories about their visit.
Beyond the hundreds of thousands of page views on Steller, the posts were traded 500,000 times on Instagram, 139,000 on Facebook and 600,000 times on Twitter.
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Next up, Bangs is looking at bringing photographers to the republic of Georgia, England and Hong Kong (after the political unrest dies down.)
Bangs joined us for a recent Talking Tech podcast interview. You can listen by clicking the link below.
Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter: @jeffersongraham