By Lori Leath Smith
Locally-owned TripShock is celebrating 10 years in business! Co-founded in 2009 by area resident CEO Greg Fisher, “We started TripShock because we wanted people to discover top tours and attractions in the Gulf Coast region,” said Fisher. “And we wanted a central location for our partners to collaborate and offer and market their businesses to customers.” Now, more than 1000 activities are offered in multiple destinations throughout the Northern Gulf Coast from Panama City Beach to New Orleans, South Carolina and other destinations in Florida. Last year alone, 80,000 reservations were booked, and the company has grown from two co-founders to a talented and diverse team of 60 employees who work remotely in TripShock’s markets.
“As we reach this milestone, it’s good to reflect on how far we have come,” said Fisher. “If 10 years in business has taught me anything, it’s that you really don’t know where a venture will take you. In May of 2009, we started up in Destin initially, with just two of us. We had one goal—to provide the best service for our stakeholders. We operated in Destin for the first couple of years, then branched out into Panama City Beach and Pensacola in 2012. In 2013, we spread into New Orleans and Gulf Shores. 2014 marked a year of unprecedented growth. Annual sales totaling 2.4 million dollars resulted in a tremendous 2,386% growth since 2011. In August of 2015, TripShock ranked 173rd on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies nationwide. In 2017, TripShock established itself in Myrtle Beach and Key West and, most recently, Tampa last year.”
“Our network of business partners and community organizations combines the best local insights with the hottest deals in travel, creating the ideal marketplace for our tour operators. Through these close industry ties,” says Fisher, “we’re able to provide unbeatable rates and special pricing on activities such as charter fishing, dolphin cruises, parasailing, sightseeing cruises, theme park tickets and everything in between. Our users benefit from our buying power to get great discounts and sometimes choose several activities, ones they might have missed otherwise,” Fisher explained. The online platform positions partners for sustained growth and success.
TripShock includes partners’ tour availabilities and rates on the TripShock.com website for a commission on each sale. Collaboration is part of the value. “A partnership with TripShock allows operators to earn money selling their activities to guests and Tripshock’s web audience with free partner tools that monetize their websites and boost their brands as well,” said Fisher. Steve Pixley, Reel Deal Destin, LLC, owner, a charter fishing business partner with TripShock since 2012, agrees. “TripShock has increased my web presence and business in a big way. They’ve also allowed me to enjoy off-season business where I’m able to keep employees hired,” said Pixley. “I have gone from seasonal to being able to stay in business year-round.
Customer Satisfaction and Partner Growth
Fisher’s passion for the best customer service has paid off. TripShock has local agents in each market that customers can “LiveChat” with at any time. Director of sales Sarah Simon, a six-year employee, has witnessed TripShock grow exponentially over the past few years. “Part of the trust is that our partners know we are available, a real person, to speak with a potential customer.” Pixley concurs. “I believe the volume of activity we receive is partially due to excellent customer service and a live, knowledgeable person. The customer is already informed to where I don’t even have to talk to them; they know what to expect.” “Our staff has been increasing about 25% each year,” said Fisher. “We work hard to foster meaningful relationships long-term, and to get our partners in front of their customers on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps another reason for company success is that TripShock’s local market managers engage in an education program—mini-fam tours where they experience their partners’ offerings so that they’re knowledgeable and experienced when talking with customers.
TripShock has now established itself as one of the southeast’s leading booking sites. “Ten years ago, TripShock was ahead of the times,” said Pixley. “In innovation and research, Tripshock is unparalleled and has cornered the market. I hope they continue as my business expands with them. Without them, I’d have to invest a lot of money in other avenues to compete with the volume TripShock provides,” said Pixley.
“The wave of the future,” said Simon, “is integration. We plan to provide more specialty tours, such as food and special needs, as well as more customization.” The technology also is already a huge factor. “Most people are booking through their phones once they arrive in a destination and TripShock has optimized web presence making this easy,” said Pixley.
“The big trend is real-time booking. Operators do not want to retrieve new reservations from their email.This trend has prompted us to form new partnerships with popular travel tech companies such as Fareharbor, Reserve with Google, and Rezdy. This not only adds value to our operator partnerships, but opens us up to new audiences and converts more bookings.”
Fisher believes high marks in customer satisfaction and helping his partners’ businesses grow have played a pivotal role in the company’s past success, and will continue to pave the way for future growth and expansion.