Social Start-Up Trippy Looks to Brand Partnerships for Revenue

Amy Pack, CNBC Producer

The travel oriented social network Trippy launched brand profiles earlier this week, a move that may eventually open up new revenue opportunities for the start-up.

Trippy, a Pinterest-like social network where users create travel boards to pin images, is working directly with brands to help them curate travel content in a social way. The hope is brands will reach a new audience via Trippy's platform and Trippy users will benefit from the brands' unique content.

While Trippy doesn't currently charge brands for a profile, the company is looking for ways to tap into the money making potential of brand partnerships, said CEO and founder J.R. Johnson.

“Trippy selects brands who are approved to have profiles on the site. Once approved, brands are not required to pay for a profile. Beyond profiles, Trippy is working on a variety of integrated partnerships that are customized to what each brand's goals are. Those integrated partnerships are a revenue stream for Trippy,” Johnson said.

The social network is featuring six brands initially, including Chase Sapphire Preferred; Thompson Hotels; Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau; Hilton Hotels & Resorts; Brides; Air New Zealand; and Forkly. The company said it will roll out more brand pages in the future.

Johnson said it is “easy to monetize traffic in the travel space” and that monetization for Trippy “ will happen when our web and mobile apps get enough traffic.”

Johnson said Trippy has creative ways in the pipeline to monetize. For example, an offer for a user that shows a tailored deal to where that person is thinking about traveling.”

Trippy is looking to aggregate deals from deal providers and use the data it has on its users to create compelling offers.

Johnson said there is a “multibillion dollar opportunity” within the travel space to do even more than Trippy is currently doing and he hopes to capitalize on that.

Johnson has worked in the internet travel space since founding his first company, VirtualTourist, in 1999. He sold the company to Expedia in 2008 and launched Trippy in the fall of 2011.

He said he wanted to develop a site where users could tap into their friends, instead of anonymous reviews and users, for trip inspiration and recommendations.

One way Trippy makes it easier for users to share information with their friends is through their Facebook app. Users can access Trippy through Facebook Connect.

Trippy’s relationship with Facebook is a two-way street, Johnson said. Johnson said he speaks with Facebook on a weekly basis to share ideas and to discuss new features Trippy would like to introduce and to get feedback from the Facebook team.

“Facebook has been signaling to us that their focus is to create the best user experience. They are well aware of the power of third party apps,” he said.

Along with growing their presence on Facebook, the start-up is also making a mobile push.

Trippy will not release the number of current users, but the majority of activity takes place on the web app and the mobile app continues to increase on daily basis in terms of overall usage, Johnson said.

Johnson said the mobile app “works well for streamlining information.”