VAIL—A former Vail Resorts executive is seeing quick success with an internet start-up company that doubled its page views and more than tripled its unique visitors this year alone.
Edwards-based Trippons.com (http://www.trippons.com) is an online coupon company similar to Groupons and LivingSocial, but it operates very differently from the more well-known brands. The company grew from two Colorado markets in 2011 to 30 markets throughout the West. It expands into Chicago next month.
Trippons CEO Kent Myers, who presided over Beaver Creek Resort and served in other executive positions with Vail Resorts until leaving the company 14 years ago, was approached about the idea for Trippons in 2010.
Scott Truex and Mark Reaman of Crested Butte, who are now shareholders but not involved in daily operations, thought up Trippons and brought the idea to Myers.
“They really had the idea of putting a coupon on a smartphone,” Myers said. “I came into the picture because they came to me with the idea and said what do you think, and because of my marketing experience and contacts within the marketing and resort business, I said I’m in.”
Trippons incorporated in January of 2011, starting with a beta test in Crested Butte two months later. After working out the system bugs, Trippons launched in Eagle County and the Roaring Fork Valley in May 2011. The company’s first large contract occurred in Chaffee County, where the visitors bureau bought into the concept and started offering Trippons to merchants in Buena Vista and Salida.
Since then, the company expanded to Summit County, Winter Park, Steamboat and Telluride, among others in Colorado, as well as markets in New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming.
Trippons is different than other online coupons in that merchants define their discounts. Groupon and LivingSocial force 50-percent-off deals, and then take 50 percent of the revenue so that merchants make 25 cents on the dollar.
Trippons merchants can change their deals every day, and the company encourages them to actively participate in discounting to see what the market will bear.
The Trippons business model is also different because its main customers are visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce and similar groups that support local merchants by passing the coupon service on to their members. Trippons offers a flat fee to the groups and does not collect from individual merchants. Many times, Trippons is free for organization members.
It works by users downloading the Trippons app. They find a coupon and present it on their smartphone to the merchant, then press redeem to receive a confirmation number and get the deal.
Trippons will roll out with the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau the first week of October under the marketing banner, “Choose Chicago.”
Myers said he expects Trippons to grow organically, and new contracts like Chicago’s McCormick Place, where 2.5 million people attend conventions annually, will help increase name recognition as business people familiar with the brand also use it while on vacation.
Myers grew up in Texas and moved to Colorado after college in 1972. He worked at ski resorts in Winter Park, Steamboat and Vail but since leaving ski company management, has become involved in various businesses across the resort industry.
“I love having fun doing deals,” he said, so Trippons seems inherently designed to suit him.