Reseller Partner Profile: Tripster
Meet Redeam reselling partner, Tripster, the oldest U.S.-centric OTA you may never have heard of. This 20-year-old company was originally known as Reserve Direct and operated separate destination-focused booking sites using 16 different website domains such as ReserveOrlando.com, ReserveBranson.com, and ReservePigeonForge.com, and so on. In mid-2019, they rolled all their sites into one and rebranded as Tripster. While the Tripster of today now offers consumers lots of choices under one roof, its strength and differentiator still lies in complete destination planning.
From its earliest days, Tripster focused first on the things to do component of travel. Founder and CEO John Johnson recognized that people mostly travel to experience a destination, not stay in a hotel – they came for the activities! However, he also knew Tripster couldn’t forget the lodging component to create the model they envisioned, so the company made it possible for activity seekers to bundle and package whole itineraries including multiple things to do as well as book their lodging, all simultaneously. It was a seamless web experience for travelers, and their business took off!
Operators Working with Tripster
Tripster has also been a digital pioneer. They knew in order for their strategy to work, they had to make it easy for operators to upload and manage their inventory. They were the first OTA to offer an extranet to activity operators, they offer dynamic pricing, and they create white labeled solutions for both hotels and activity operators. They’ve made their systems transparent and even made it possible for operators to resell other operators’ inventory in bundles. Tripster can also provide private label booking platforms to ecommerce-enable operators’ websites.
Tripster refers to its operator pool as “supplier partners” because of the diversity of activities it supports (“A Broadway show isn’t an ‘operator’ to us.”) The kinds of activities and attraction Tripster focuses on ranges from tickets to Wicked on Broadway to major theme parks like Walt Disney World. But, the largest percentage of their suppliers are unique experiences like a foodie tour in Chicago or a canyon train ride through the Red Rocks of Arizona.
Many of Tripster’s suppliers have been with them for decades, and the company frequently receives accolades from even the most demanding big-brand partners. Tripster has also flourished in smaller, second tier markets and Midwestern cities. In fact, during the pandemic, these destinations have buoyed Tripster sales.
Tripster views themselves as an operator service and not just as a platform. Through their packaging and productizing, they want operators to reap such benefits that they view Tripster as an extension of their sales department. Tripster is there to do the hard work like making adjustable prices and developing promotions in order to help move inventory when needed most. They have also helped develop solutions suppliers weren’t necessarily even doing yet, such as tiered and opaque pricing, as well as API connections to manage media and content.
“We don’t want to be handed a rate sheet,” says CEO Johnson. “We want to interact with our partners and help them be as dynamic as possible to discover new methods to convert sales.”
A Favorite Tripster/Operator Story
A Tripster success story that has stood the test of time and perfectly exemplifies their packaging model is Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. In 2006, Silver Dollar City came to Tripster and said, “We’d like to create a relationship with area hotels in order to offer a Disney-like vacation package bundle.” So, Tripster provided them with a white label solution featuring packages that bundled their theme park tickets with area hotels. They have now operated this solution for 14 years, generating over $35M in bookings in that time. Based on Silver Dollar City’s success, in 2009 Tripster implemented the same kind of solution for sister property Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Typical Tripster Customers
Tripster’s customer base varies across a gamut of experiences they offer, from hard-core theme park and tourist attraction goers to the doors-off helicopter tour or whitewater rafting action-lover types. For its customers, Tripster’s calling card appeal is “the whole trip” because Tripster makes travel planning convenient and creates value.
From a marketing standpoint, Tripster relies heavily on search engines and content marketing to attract these customers. Much of the content they provide has been curated in-house; however, they also work with outside contributors who have their own first-hand experiences to share. Now, with over 1.5 million consumer accounts, their new private member group campaign, “Are you a Tripster?” has the base it needs to provide yet more unique conversion value to suppliers.
What’s in Store for Tripster’s Future
As Tripster considers the future, they are mostly focused on understanding both the need of the traveler and the supplier, and constantly seeking ways to improve results for both. Its immediate need for its growing base is more…as in more places to go, more things to do, and more ability to book these things with a company they trust to provide the best overall experience and value.
Tripster also understands that even though they were an early innovator, suppliers are now burdened with too many platforms, so the company strives to help consolidate that process as much as possible through APIs, connectivity, onward distribution, white labeling solutions, and more. Their priority remains steadfast: empowering suppliers with features and tools they need to address their unique approach to selling and fulfilling bookings in the resell process.