March 31, 2022

Fishing for Growth: Entrepreneurship, Networking & NFTs with Greg Fisher

Fishing for Growth: Entrepreneurship, Networking & NFTs with Greg Fisher

As one of Greg Fisher’s partners recently said, “There’s a difference between an Owner and a Founder; and Greg is a Founder.” Greg joins us today to share his entrepreneurial journey and how he grew TripShock into one of the largest online tour & activity marketplaces in the country. When Greg launched TripShock back in 2009, he faced significant headwinds as he battled to get the platform up and running. Most water sports and attractions were still managed by pen and paper during this time, so not only did he have to convince companies to have trust in TripShock, he had to also convince them on the premise of moving into the digital era.

13 years since launch, TripShock is now in more than 25 US destinations and is continuing to expand - a journey that has been accomplished through organic growth and without accepting any outside capital.

Greg also shares stories from behind the microphone of the Awkward Watersports Guys Podcast, which has quickly become the unified voice of the water sports industry. Greg and his partner Kevin O'Neil deliver an informational (and entertaining) show that appeals to business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs from all industries - just don't listen with your kids in the car, Kevin gets a little wild from time to time :)

Finally, Greg delivers a raw explanation of NFTs and how businesses can use blockchain to progress into Web3 technology. He provides a VERY important piece of advice for businesses that you don't want to miss!

Watch on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/8k6g9hRXBnQ

CONTACT GREG FISHER
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CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
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Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Podcast Sponsored by Condo-World and Lexicon Travel

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Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we're joined today with Greg Fisher from Trip Shock. Greg, welcome to the show.

Greg Fisher:

Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Alex Husner:

Very excited to have you here today. So Greg, you've been just a role model and a friend and a mentor to me for the last several years, and I've learned so much from you. And just watching your growth trip shark has been so exciting. But for our audience that isn't familiar with you or with the company, can you just tell us a little bit about what you've done and what your history in the industry has been?

Greg Fisher:

Sure. So trip shock is a online tour and activity marketplace where an OTA and we cover most regions in the southeast, we partner with activity attractions, rental, you know, boat rental companies, and we resell their products for a commission. So six, you know, similar to Expedia is model we've been around for this is our 14 Season 14th or 15th season, I'm losing track here, I started the company, really young, didn't know really what I was doing. I knew that there was kind of a need in the market of consolidating amenities and then reselling them in a one stop shop type booking system or booking place. So started there in Destin, Florida, actually, and we developed it soon to Panama City Beach and Gulf Shores, obviously, we expanded it to Myrtle Beach, I got to meet Alex, and then you know, now we're just kind of taking over the South, you know, going into new markets that we feel are good fits, a lot of them are vacation rental based markets, because we see like, the family activities seem to be just really popular, people are really looking for outdoor excursions. So that's kind of the gist of it. For me, I I studied tourism at university, Central Florida. And I literally went from college to a front desk job, two trips shot quick, really fast. In fact, like that short time working in hotels, that's how I've figured out you know, the model for trip shock and started massaging it because people were coming to the front desk, asking for ideas for tours and activities. And I said, Okay, well, there's got to be a better way to, you know, get these people to these activities. But also, you know, my staff should be able to make a little extra for referring these because you know, they have, they have choices. So if there was a choice that gave them an extra couple of dollars, and there's a better way to keep track of it, then that's when, you know, I started thinking and then I partnered with a local business woman, and we started a trip shock. So the rest is kind of history from there.

Annie Holcombe:

So exciting. So we know each other through each other through other people. And obviously Alex that been in the Panhandle since the 90s, and worked at front desk and marketing for different resorts. And there was always a struggle is the different attractions and trying to kind of organize them into a good fashion. And I remember when you first came out with that I was like I always say that everybody has a million dollar idea in their head. It just got to get it out there. And I just thought it was brilliant, and to watch what you've done with it and where you've taken it. And, and again, Alex and I have noticed that there's all these really great ideas and entrepreneurs and technology advancements that have come out of the Panhandle. So again, you're just another word of the war down there you guys. Yeah, it's another bright spot for our our destination. And I love what you've done with it. So kudos to you for putting it out there. I think it was something that needed to be done. And I'd love to know, if there had to be some challenges early on. Because again, you said you were young, and you were trying to work with a piece of the industry that maybe wasn't as organized and refined in their communications and technology. So how do you how do you think that you were able to get that all organized and make it what it is today?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, it's a good question. So basically, the first like four or five years went extremely slow, because I'm young, and my business partner at the time wasn't very involved. So it was just kind of one business at a time. And it's sometimes I had to do things differently, such as sometimes I had to buy the tickets in advance because I didn't trust me on a credit relationship. Sometimes I had to pay weekly, or even every couple of days I had to pay out, you know, our partners for the trips that we booked. So it's all about you know, just coming in the middle with their, their concerns, and and getting them on because once that that other tour operator sees their competitor on my site, then they're like, Okay, you know, I want to be. Part of this too. So though that said the first four or five years is really tough trying to develop and show that, no, I'm a trustworthy business person, and I'm going to do the right thing. Because, you know, there's times where, you know, I'm young, and I'm collecting hundreds of 1000s of dollars. And these people are trusting me that I'm going to pay that out. Because we all know the OTA game. There are some bad players, you know, one, one bad player, and he in our neck of the winter, that they took the money and they floated, and they never paid people back. So those OTAs, and there's a number of them that did that really hurt my chances of really taking this thing, you know, you know, to the next level faster, because I couldn't change my system easily. Because my technology was built around that model. But you know, as soon as I start building trust, and people knew that they were going to get paid, you know, that I'm going to deliver on what I told them to it just sometimes like going the route of the the nice and honest person comes out good in the end, you just have to stick you know, stay true to that path. Right? Yeah. And I remember everyone always wins, I feel. Yeah, for sure.

Alex Husner:

Greg, I remember one of my favorite stories that you told us when you first came up to visit and Myrtle Beach and start working in this market. You said that when you were having challenges getting these Fishing Charters onto the platform, you would go and you would wait for them to come back from being out at sea, and you would bring them coffee and like you would do these different things. And you live it every day. Yeah, yeah. And it's like, that's, that's that's what builds it builds that trust. But it also, you know, those are the things that you have to do early on, to get to scale that those are things that they definitely don't scale. You can't be doing it every day now. But you know, the impact that that made early on, it's worth the So what came first as you were building it, because, you know, 10 years was 10 years ago, probably, to those 13 years, or 2009. Wow. So technology, just in general was nowhere close to where it is now. But what came first, when did you build the website and then build the technology after? Or did it kind of go hand in hand? Or it's it's amazing to me to think how you knew what to build on the technology side, since that didn't really that didn't exist? I mean, there weren't platforms like that, or, you know, in our industry back at that time, they were obviously were property management systems are not nearly as advanced as they are now. But I mean, you you kind of got into that. So early that that had to have been a challenge figuring out what your needs even more.

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, so you're gonna laugh at this, but you know, I worked in hotels, so I had access to all the OTAs and their back ends. Oh, yeah. Oh, when I was on my way out of the hotel, when I knew I was gonna, you know, go work, you know, in Star trip shock. On my way out, I went into all extra nets, and I screenshotted every single one of them. I reverse engineer. That's how we built our, our extranet is basically by looking at what they have done. Now. I had to modify the crap out of it. Because no hotels are different than tours. Right. But I get I got the basic foundation. So you know, I cheated a little bit. But honestly, that's every business does a little bit of that.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And your company has been remote since day one, right? I mean, you don't actually have a you have an office, but you don't have Yeah, call center staff. They're all remote. That's incredible, too, because in a remote business back in those days was kind of unheard of. So how did you make that decision to go that route and know how to even get started?

Greg Fisher:

Well, I'd say like the first three years, we were we did have an office, and I worked kind of in the office. But in 2014, we went completely remote. So we knew how to handle the pandemic pretty well. Yeah, um, but, you know, it's, it's funny, because so many people just couldn't believe that we could operate remote with a call center. And they're like, Well, how do you know that they're gonna answer the phone and this and that. And I mean, when people work for a company, they they truly want to impress their superiors, like they want to perform. We want to move up, they want to make more money, and they know they're not going to achieve that by cheating the system. And honestly, it's pretty easy. If someone's not doing their job. Are you recording all the phone calls so you can hear what's going on in the background? Or you can see what you know how many calls they answer pickup a day. So is it easy to track the metrics, so if they're going to, you know, do shady things or skip out there? It's going to be caught pretty quick.

Annie Holcombe:

So how did it so from that, you obviously had to work on creating a guest experience but you weren't interacting with the guests directly? Right. It was more about on the phone and then getting the information to the front desk. Is that how that would play out?

Greg Fisher:

When it comes to making reservations? on

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, so I guess so. So I guess maybe explain to me how it all works, because I'm actually I've never shopped it before. So I don't know exactly if someone calls trip shocker books on how does that actually work? Is it just like an OTA where they don't actually speak to a person or they can speak to a person,

Greg Fisher:

they can speak to a person. In fact, that's the thing we do a little bit differently is we, we train salespeople, I know a lot of OTAs, they prefer to have a small call center. And to push people to book online, I get it from like a, you know, a Sky View, like a lot. But for us, you know, I have two kids. And when I go to book something, a lot of times, especially since the activity industry is a cottage industry, and like well built websites still Yeah, they they're starting to get online booking and, and so forth. But the business owners themselves are not marketers, or they don't have marketing departments. So you know, they're not displaying a lot of the information, as well as it could be displayed, but they're selling great experiences. So I try to really push my staff to study every single product. And B, you know, that salesperson that that activity provider might not be able to be because they're on the boat, or they don't have time to update the website as much. So we're in a really good position. Because these families, these moms, they are looking for information that is not going to be easily found. And they're talking to someone who likely has been to the area that might have even been on that tour. And a lot of OTAs really can't provide that personalized service. Like right now like our, our team or agents, they're on a A fam tour visiting different activity companies locally here. And they might go a little outside, you know, outside here, but they're visiting actively talk to the owner seeing the setups and learning products firsthand. And I and I think that's a missing ingredient in business these days is there, we're selling marketing, but we're not selling sales. Yeah, when people are on the phones, I mean, you got them on the phone, like you can not only sell them on the product they're looking for, but now you have an opportunity to upsell them, where online is not as easily done. Because now as soon as they talk to you, they hear the person they feel comfortable. You know, I just think the phones an amazing tool that like in 2022 I hope it gets put back into play a little bit because that's our secret ingredient. I think like 25% of our sales are by phone. We just significant in a world where you know, online bookings are so prominent.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, it's harder, it's harder to say no to a person than it is the computer. But if you do need people to go out and accelerate future activities, things Alex and I are available for spa visits, we certainly would like to test

Alex Husner:

Yes, exactly. Right. Um, and then we'll know how great they are. We're happy to know, I definitely you're 100% right on that. And you know, our business, we definitely have a very big, you know, section of business that books on the phone. I mean, we're still having a phone reservation system and with so much online to it, just what we do, there are a lot of questions, you know, and I think probably the same thing in your industry that that allows you to do the things that the other, you know, your bigger competitors might not be able to do at scale, but I'm curious to your agents. Do they all live down in the panhandle? or

Greg Fisher:

I'd say 50% of them do.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, so how often do you take them to do these fam trips just whenever you get a new I'd say twice a year. Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Greg Fisher:

So and usually we focus on the most higher volume tours we sell. We start there and then we kind of branch branch off into other you know, other markets that might be newer closer by obviously it's expensive to bring your staff all the way to Myrtle Beach. Right, we've done we've taken some of our staff to Myrtle Beach before so yeah, yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

With that how do you how do you replicate that knowledge and you know, go into you scale your business into all these other markets because you guys have expanded tremendously from when you first started. You used to be just really, you know, in the southeast right here along the panhandle, but Myrtle Beach I think you're you're doing New York now too, if I'm not mistaken. Are you are you that there are in some of the cities are my miss?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, that's right. Yeah, we're in there. And we're kind of tiptoeing into some of these places, testing testing the waters. So yeah, that's that's a huge challenge actually to train your agents on 1000s of products. So when we launch a new product, there is like sometimes training courses depending on how in depth the product is, but we definitely post every single product In a Skype, where they have an opportunity in during the day, while they have like breaks in between calls, or sometimes we just kind of put them on pause, and allow them to check out the listing, review it through the pictures, ask questions to our market managers about the product. So it's not just like we're adding products every day, and there's no you know, notification of them. Like there's, there's a process of them can kind of put it into circulation. It's not the perfect process. But compared to other OTAs, where private, they don't have any process. It's I think it's the best thing. And hopefully, they can get to these locations, because some of our agents love to travel. And we highly encourage them to go to markets that we have product in. And sometimes we do you know, credits or subsidies on their trips, if they you know, detour and check out some of the activities.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, because sometimes it's more just about learning the destination that it is about learning the actual attraction or for us the accommodations, because it those are the questions that you're going to get you're going to get I mean, how close is it to this? Or how easy is it to get around? If I'm going to be here first that it takes a little bit more high touch than just looking at a map to answer those questions. But you know, when you when I first met Greg, we were going in opposite directions that you're trying to get into Myrtle Beach, and we were trying to get into the Panhandle. And I think that's how we connected on LinkedIn, we just saw posts that each of us was making. But one of the challenges that I know that we've had, and I think you have to is that when you go into a new market, it's also about finding that balance of you're going to when you don't have supply there first, you've got to be able to, you need to get the interest from the gas, who to pay for the marketing, but not having a lot of supply. I mean, you're going to you're going to be in the red for a while until you can get that to turn around. But what market has been not the May, I guess not easiest, but maybe the most successful new market that you've entered into, would you say?

Greg Fisher:

So in the past five years, the most successful new market has been Hillman. Really interesting. And the reason why Hilton has been so successful is because it's all it's all based on the operator. And when we go into a market, we try to find what we call an anchor partner, an anchor partner, usually really big, they have multiple products, they have multiple businesses, and all they care about is market share. They just want to take over that market, they want as much money or as many bookings that it could possibly get. They want to have all the exposure on every OTA and they want to be number one placement. They're at their past that point where commission, they're thinking about commission, they're just thinking about volume. So we have a couple partners like that in Hilton Head. And when you have a partner like that, and they really understand the importance of a partnership with an OTA then you're not fighting back and forth with, you know, rates and Google ads and all this other stuff, you can just get the business, right. And there's other markets where we partner with them. And then we have a laundry list of stipulations. You know, we don't want to see you on Google. We don't want to see you here. Only focus on Sunday and Saturday at four o'clock. Yeah, now, like you got to release the purse strings a little bit for us. But that's that's I think what makes a good market is when the partners really want to partner with you just as much as you want to partner with them. Sometimes it's it's one sided, and those relationships usually don't end well.

Alex Husner:

Yeah And that first anchor partner is so important, because like you said earlier, I mean, you get that first partner there and then it becomes like a roller coaster effect, just bringing the rest of them on, they just start calming. So good advice. Do you have any markets that you've gone into that you just got in and you're like, oh, gosh, I wish we hadn't or, you know, then it just fell flat or maybe it took you a lot longer to get established?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, um, Biloxi, Mississippi was, well, we currently are still there and we have a few products. And I'll tell you the issue with Biloxi. So Biloxi doesn't have a whole lot of product. So the operators that are there kind of have a monopoly on each category they sell. And so that is first of all, that's the struggle. So we did partner with some and they did exactly what I told you. They only gave us like Saturday at four o'clock Sunday at this time. And they didn't truly understand what like a partnership meant. And that hurt the you know, hurt the ability for us to grow in those markets because we're having a battle through the red tape of each partner and every single one we've signed up seem to be the same situation. And these are in Biloxi. Mississippi is not a market that is accustomed to OTAs. They are a casino market, they're very weekend heavy. The tour and activity companies there have been there for 30-40 years. So innovative, innovating, their marketing is not necessarily something top of mind for them. But when you go to a market with like Hilton Head, and they have some young entrepreneurs, they understand online marketing, they're growing leaps and bounds. And they have just a very innovative approach to things like that's what we like to find. And I'll tell you mark, markets are defined by people like that, you know, if we can find good people to start with, because then we sign them up. And what happens? It's like this domino effect all of their competitors. They want in because the anchor products and yeah, if there's a monkey see monkey do, but when you don't get the anchor product in, and you're getting all the out outliers. And it's kind of tough, because the outliers, usually really small red tape, they don't understand a standard well. So you can you can invest money in your marketing strategy, or even the time to educate your sales agents, if you're only having small gaps of inventory that you can book. I mean, that's, that's the challenge for sure. It's very similar to vacation rentals, like Alex, I'm sure you feel the same, like you want to go into a market and get the biggest and get all the inventory. You don't want to deal with all the red tape on marketing and advertising. Like I can't tell you how many times we get into a market, we sign a contract. And then a week later, they send us all these demands on how they want their products to be displayed on the site, what position they want to be their ad they don't want ads being they don't want to even though like some like ads we do are very, like, destination specific, like dolphin cruises. And Destin, Florida. Well, you can't capitalize on that word. That's just the those are just words that everyone can use. Right? They don't want you there because they feel like you're increasing the cost. Yeah, taking market share from them, even though there's like seven on their advertisers. So like these crazy demands make it difficult for us to move forward in these markets. So I, you know, once we start seeing that, it's like, kind of something triggers in us like maybe we should hold off or wait until we find that right, that part and they're out there. There's a lot there's a lot of we have a lot of great ones. But you know, you learn.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Who would you say is your biggest competitor. I mean, I know you can book attractions on TripAdvisor. But who else is out there that you compete against?

Greg Fisher:

TripAdvisor is our biggest competitor. I know we're like small potatoes compared to them. But as far as like the markets we're in, they're the only one that's really holding any weight against us. And oops, sorry. No,they're big, but they're they don't go very long tail in their products. So they have like some of the bigger commercial stuff like the attractions and like the bigger boating tours, but when they don't have like the jetski rentals, pontoons like the kayak tours in the swamps, like I call that like more long tail product that they need to have boots on the ground in order to sign those companies up. So that's where we kind of will outdo them, but they're gonna sell a lot more attraction tickets, because their their attraction listings are tied to the TripAdvisor profile. So have a really great, you know, lead generation program for For bookings, which we you know, we're not compete against TripAdvisor. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

I know you don't. We just booked to, for Chicago. We're going in early for Varma, Alex, so my husband and I booked a city pass to do the attractions there. And that was interesting, but they didn't have a lot of offerings kind of to your point, they had like the basics that everybody can get everywhere. And then you'd have to go digging, like for each hotel, the find some some stuff, but what I liked is they send you like a QR code. So all of your attractions are loaded in this QR code, and you're a technology guy, and you're like always thinking ahead, is that something that you guys do or will do?

Greg Fisher:

I'm not necessarily that that's our product, we actually, we might sell like the city pass. But it's it's a brilliant product, because it's all based on breakage. So they're hoping that you don't go to, you know, one or two of those, right? Because, you know, there, but I think it's great. And they usually partner with the anchor products in in those cities. So they know that most people are going to go to this museum or this attraction. So they package them all up, and they get a huge margin on them. Okay, at the same time, it but at the same time, they know you're not going to use them all. So they're going to make up that. I mean, if everyone used all five of those six, or all six of those tickets, whatever it is They wouldn't it wouldn't make any money but they know it in their numbers. I mean, I did one of those in Hollywood. I think we use like two of the five. I opted to go for this three instead of the five because I figured at that point, we probably wouldn't do all five. But I guess it's like the game of people that sell gift cards for stuff they know. And I'm guilty of it. I get gift cards all the time. And I don't cash them in. Yeah, they expired. Yeah, it's very similar to like Global Amenities. They have their you know, their amenity packages. Thank you for free tickets. You know, they know that not everyone's gonna use. Yeah, although so it's a game of breakage. Yeah.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, it makes sense. So beyond Trip Shock, you've got a lot of other types of businesses and things that you're involved in. And one of those is a podcast. So the awkward watersport guys podcast tell us a little bit about that. Not that that's necessarily the business business. But tell us about how that got started. And from that, you know, what you've taken and how you've used that to network to come back and grow trip shark?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, yeah, there's so the podcast, I started with one of our tour partners, Kevin O'Neill from Destiny watered ventures He's based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. So we sat down and had lunch one day Kevin just called me and and want to chat about marketing and every now and then I'll I'll get with some our partners and just have lunch. And we just talked about how there wasn't like a voice for the watersport industry, or just the boat rental industry, as benign as boat rentals are, you should have like some type of influencer or some type of community that all these businesses can come and talk about their problems together. Because, you know, is easy as in my son, there's a lot of regulations surrounding voting and running boats. Yeah. And so we said, hey, well, why don't we start a podcast because podcasts were starting to become pretty big during the pandemic, for whatever reason. So we got together, we started, you know, talking about different issues. Kevin is a lot different than I am. He's very colorful. He swears, and he has big opinions. And, and I'm kind of like, the, you know, the quiet, you know, think it through type person. Um, but we have like, So, how people tell me it is, like, Kevin's Howard Stern, and I am his, his assistant Robin. Just there. I you know, every now and then I can be I can, you know, be a Howard Stern, but mostly it's Kevin. But we have a really good time together, Kevin will just do really crazy things. But he's really smart. Like, mine, like Kevin, he comes off as silly on the show. But at the same time, we want to make it make it fun. We will make it colorful, you know, people are taking time out of their day to listen to us. So we want to make it interesting. So and we talk about a myriad of topics we bring in Alex was on the show, we talked about, you know, vacation rentals, but we're trying to definitely mix it up a bit. In fact, we we had James Garretson, he was on the the tiger King, if you guys. Yeah. He's the jet, the jetski guy. So in fact, he owns a watersport company in Marathon, Florida. So it was just kind of ironic that that was the case. But so we can really mix it up. But at the end of the day, it's really important to our industry to have, you know, just conversations, and we talk about safety, we talk about regulations, we talk about marketing, we bring on guests to talk about just being being an entrepreneur, Kevin, I just will talk about, you know, random things going on in our life. But people tell us how, you know, they listen to us and how much it means to them that, you know, they're working every day day in and day out. No one really understands what they go through running boats, the stress of running into people, you know, the stress of, you know, saying no to somebody that which could, you know, Turman turn into like a discrimination lawsuit. Yeah, you know, these are the things that are just that we think about. And there's not like a body or net, not, you know, a place where you can just hang your hat at, you know, turn on just okay, these guys are like us. They're just like me, and we don't get a hell of a lot of downloads, maybe, you know, 100 250 downloads. So it's more of those. It's a very niche show, because there's not 1000s of boat rental operators, you know, in the country. There's hundreds. So, but we're happy where we're at, and it's brought us to actually create a complicated conference last year. Yeah. 100 people come to the conference, and we did, you know, roundtables and things like that. So, you know, if you're, no matter what you do, if it's a vacation rentals or boat rentals, There's probably some people just like you thinking the same things and looking for an outlet to share, you know, their their story. And when he created that we even have a Facebook group what about 500 people? Were willing to talk about ask questions and you know, sell equipment and just kind of bring bring the industry together.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, no, I think you guys have done a phenomenal job with it. And the advice Annie and I were given when we started ours was you want your show to be first entertaining and second informational. And that's certainly how your show is to and I'm not in watersports, but I listened to all all your episodes, because I always learned something from it. And it is funny. I mean, Kevin is so off the wall different than you are, but the two of you complement each other really well. And it's I mean, it's definitely entertaining. The Tiger King one was insane. Maybe Annie we need to get Carol Baskins. But now I think I think it's been awesome seeing you do that. And actually, you said to me, a year or two ago, when you started yours, you're like, you know, you want to have a podcast too. And I remember saying, No, I don't think so. Like I don't want to not have the time and I wouldn't know how to do it. I don't know where to start. But you know, somehow Annie came into my life, that we figured it out. I'm delaying is I'm glad that we did because it it's we enjoy it for the same reasons that you and Kevin do that it's great to have these conversations, because they are so important. And we've learned so much through doing this that we take back into our own businesses and our own lives. And it just enriches you and hopefully enriches the people that listen as well. But I think the conference side of things is really interesting to me. 100 people at that event you had last year. That's all that's a good sized conference. You know, you guys, you guys did a great job with that.

Greg Fisher:

But even if we make no money on the podcast, and we've actually had a couple of sponsorships, but even if we had zero sponsorships, I've been completely fulfilled. Because all the people we bring on the show the people that get to meet it forces me to meet new people, right? We have new guests all the time. Yeah. Some of them are friends or, or colleagues or clients. But a lot of times people that I don't really know too well. And it's opened up a lot of doors for, you know, trip shock, we've actually had a lot of people work with trip shot because of the podcast. So man, it's it's been really great. I mean, I does take you know, few hours out of my week, but it's well worth it.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, it was back to something that you said to Alex and I, the first couple of times, we talked that your network is your net worth. And the bigger your network is, the more your net worth thing, but you know, opportunity for it. Just you know, for us, Alex and I, we've been given opportunities to one to meet people, but to speak with people that probably never would have taken our phone call, email or even spoken to us at a conference. And now people are reaching out to us and giving us opportunities to be part of other conferences. And it's just it's a great, great thing. And if you are enjoying it, that's That's wonderful. And so you're giving a voice to an industry that didn't feel like they had a voice it was perfectly timed. Yeah. Yeah, I think you guys have always been you both Trip Shock And you personally, have been an early adopter of things. And that really pays off. You know, Kevin said in one of your latest episodes that he said today, there's a difference between an owner and a founder and Greg as a founder, because you've been in all sides of the business, you get your hands dirty, you do things that don't scale, you do the things before other people will do them. And that, you know, that makes a huge difference. So it's like I said earlier, it's been exciting to watch the growth of Tripp shock and you in the podcast. And now there's one other topic we want to cover, which is something that I've just been watching from afar and amaze but I don't totally understand it. I don't think any does either. But you are really big into web three and NF T's and blockchain and we would just love to hear your take on what you think the future is going to be with that and how it affects travel. And but before we get there, if you can just give a NFT 101 For our audience, to basically minister the basics dummies version. Nf T's for Dummies, please.

Greg Fisher:

Alright, so let's let's do this. So and at first, I just thought you were posting pictures of fish on Instagram. Put that out there. Yeah. Actually, do you see the fish on my hat? Oh, yes. My fish. Okay, so I don't you only want to see my office is full. That's one behind you. Right. I mean, that was I know that that's a painting how I turned my camera, you're gonna laugh at me. But so maybe we'll save that for last. NFT stands for non fungible token, basically saying that a token that can't be duplicated. So when you purchase and NFT This is a one and only piece of digital data or digital art depending on what context of the NFT we're talking and these Anytime they are transferred to traded, the good is the one one true they have provenance. So NFT gets kind of skewed because it can mean multiple things. So NFT is really just a unit of data stored on the blockchain, which is a digital ledger. So digital are like JPEGs. Like, they can be an NFT. A contract or a document can be an NFT. A video can be an NFT. So you know, it can be multiple different things. Now, when you hear NF T in the news, most of it is has to do with either music or digital art or pictures. Like you probably have seen the monkeys, board apes, they're, you know, they're selling for hundreds of 1000s of dollars. And that's a whole other conversation. But you know, you can see where like most of the NF T's laying is, is because of visual art. That's kind of like what I do as a hobby is I buy and sell and trade and collect digital art. And the reason why it's big now and not five years ago is because now with the blockchain, you can actually denote ownership of that piece of digital art where without the blockchain, I mean, we're just copying, pasting and sending, and no one really knows who owns what. And the question you're probably going to ask me is, how does a piece of digital art and value? How does an NFT get value? Right? Why is a picture of a monkey worth $300,000? Exactly, yeah, it's no different than physical art. So let's say that your friend creates a beautiful painting and goes through and this painting is really shouldn't be worth a million dollars. But they're at the county fair. And people are walking by and saying, oh, that's, that's wonderful, I only will give you $100 for it. So just imagine if Oprah Winfrey comes though, through the county fair, and sees it and says, This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life, I'm going to give you a half million dollars for it, she puts it into her personal art collection, that artist is now famous, everything that they paint from now on is going to be worth a million dollars. Now, same thing happens. So let me sorry, because this is where I'm confused, is on digital. Someone puts it up on the internet that it becomes like it's out there, and anybody can grab it. So how do you? How do you lock it? So I don't go and take a screenshot or you just feels like anybody could get this. That's why I'm so congested. So oh, let me ask you this. What if I want to work the Mona Lisa? What museums in somewhere in Italy? So what if I go and take a picture of the Mona Lisa? And I put it on my Facebook? Or Or I print it out? Make a print of it? I mean, yeah, I mean, I can make it look just like the original painting. If I had an artist, you know, you know, put some code on it, whatever. But it's still not mine. Right? Like the Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa says the same thing with digital digital art. I can copy and paste it. But I don't have provenance. I don't own that piece of digital art. The owner is going to be the one that's on the blockchain that's that's confirmed with their wallet address.

Alex Husner:

But how so I can take why couldn't somebody still just screenshot it? Because benefits?

Greg Fisher:

They definitely can. Yeah, but if let's screenshotted it try, say try to sell it couldn't do that? Because the buyer would be like, well, this is a blockchain. This is not, you know, through through the official cloud. Also, that person has no IP rights to that are to like you get most an FTR I actually write to it. So if I screenshotted it, and let's try to you know, allow a business to use it for a commercial. Well, I couldn't do that because I don't own the rights to you have to go to the true owner, which is validated on the blockchain.

Alex Husner:

So the way that these NF T's get popularity is if a celebrity actually buys them. Is that the only way?

Greg Fisher:

Not No, not the other way. But it's for some of them. Yes, like, you know, Jimmy Fallon bought born apes, Paris Hilton bought it and you know, Justin Bieber, they're all buying these certain collections and driving the price up. It's somewhat speculative, but they also get value from you their utility they offer. So utility could be IP rights utility can be like getting a dividend or staking the NFT which is like putting it into a safe place and getting rewards audit. It can be access to events like Gary Vee Gary Vaynerchuk. He is doing an event and if you redeem one of his NF T's, you get a ticket to one of his event and some of his older Genesis NF T's if you hold one of them you get free access. To all of his events, you got to pay a 1000s of dollars for but they're utilizing their NFT as a way to get access to them.

Alex Husner:

And you guys just did that at arrival, right? When you were at that conference that you for your session, the people that were there, they could get a trip shock NFT.

Greg Fisher:

So we created an arrival NFT and we went to our session, you got the arrival and ft. And basically, it's a proof of attendance. So people that went got the NFT. And now I can actually look up on the blockchain and pull up all these addresses and stuff, own that NFT. And I'm like, Okay, well, I could send something to their wallet next year, like, like, Hey, here's $100 gift card says restaurant because you were at, you know, the last event and I have, you know, you're there was confused, confirmed their event, because you received the NFT through the blockchain. That's kind of a bad example. But you can kind of see where you can do diff, once they own that NFT, you now know that you know, for sure that they they prove themselves if they were there, because you know, you can't duplicate it. It's non fungible, you can't copy and paste it. And they can't give it to somebody and fake it. So they all got different ones. Basically. All they all got this, we had, it was actually an addition NFT. So there was the same one. But it's, but it's still like the same collection.

Annie Holcombe:

So does that mean art galleries are going to be like on your phone in the future. So when someone goes your house, don't look at my walls, just look at my phone. That's why I can't because it's not it's not something that you it's not a tangible object, right? It's, it's, I mean, I know, I've seen some that you can buy. And you can trade it like you were talking about Gary Vaynerchuk stuff like you could trade it in for, I think we'll did one with somebody that you get a sweatshirt or a hat or something along those lines. But But these these NF T's are essentially are just like, they're out there in the ether. That's a digital on your phone, or like gallery, right?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Okay.

Greg Fisher:

I mean, it has a lot to do with the artist, it has a lot to do exactly what you thought. The value of the NFT is the same thing with almost anything else, like the brand of the NFT has a lot to do with the value. Like, if we had two cars right next to each other, and one had a Mercedes sticker, and the other one had a key a sticker, there's gonna be a $30,000 difference in that car. Right. And the same thing with NFT projects, if you see a monkey NFT project with the board eight, or the yoga lab brand, which is the company that founded that company, or founded that collection, then you have another one, it looks similar with, you know, the key, you know, a CO equivalent on that there's gonna be a different price. Because these collections are building brands around it. They're bringing in celebrities, they're creating entertainment value. The board, apes did a drop of their governance token where basically they just created a cryptocurrency, they dropped it to their holders, and the average holder got like $50,000. From it,

Alex Husner:

I guess we're it's just it's hard to understand the assignment of value of input the Mercedes and a Kia. I mean, the difference is, is tangible, that it's a completely different built cars. And when you can, it's not just somebody saying, Oh, that one's worth this, and that one's worth this. And people take that as face value. And even with art. I mean, there's a difference between artists between, you know, what they're painting and their skill set and who they are as an artist. They didn't just start from day one, and somebody said, Oh, you're good, and you're not good. You know, there's, it's, that's what's kind of hard for me to comprehend, I guess.

Annie Holcombe:

Okay, so we're completely confused. We don't.

Greg Fisher:

And then my, my, my, my standing desk just decided to go down. So yeah, I guess the biggest thing is that you guys are looking at like, because it's not physical than, you know, how do you derive value to it? Right, and with Ethereum and digital products, you have to have a different way of thinking, you know, we I think we all can agree that some digital art is done by phenomenal artists. And they are do you know, the respect regarding like, what they charge for it, you know, it shouldn't we shouldn't look at the painting on your wall. any different than a beautiful digital masterpiece or digital illustration like there's still value in that but the difference between you know, the physical and the digital is that with with the blockchain and using a digital ledger, they can actually make it a make it non fungible so only one person can truly own that digital piece. Okay.

Alex Husner:

So how do you see how does this relate to travel? what is going to be the future of how this will be used in the future, both NF T's and just blockchain blockchain in general. I know, trip shock has already adopted some of this technology. So where do you see this going?

Greg Fisher:

So let's see a few things. One is, let's let's start, let's just look at an easiest kind of fundamental way of utilizing NF t. So I think the easiest way to use NF TS is as digital souvenirs. So for an OTA, I can't give tangible things when people finished booking, I can give them gift cards, promo code, stuff like that. But, you know, NF T's allow me to do something, you know, even more intelligent, intuitive, like I can partner with a local artist and have them design five or six different NF T's of local landscapes, convert them to digital art, confirm them on the blockchain. So they're, they're official from that artist, and reward them for bookings and making make it a game. So after they finish making their reservation, they can choose between a handful of different digital collectibles that they can put in their crypto wallet. And every year they can collect more of these, these NF Ts and make it can be fun. Like it's no different than collecting any other type of art, but it's just it's digital and is put on your phone. So and the cool thing about it is that if they collect those pieces of art, now I have their wallet address. And your crypto wallet address is going to be like your your new digital signature, like right now. Like as web two marketers, we are looking for emails, like emails and IP addresses like the Holy Grail for us, right web three, it's, it's wallet addresses. So I want to start collecting as many wallet addresses as possible that hold you know that digital collectible because then if I have their wallet, I can send them things. I can air that's where you heard the term AirDrop, you can AirDrop them things, but it's really cool. Like if I can get a digital collectible of a local artists and beautiful landscape, I own the non commercial IP to that I can go to a printer and get you know that that NFT printed and I can put on my walls and print. Mm hmm. You know. So that's the that's kind of where my head is right now from the basic, you know, foundation of like how NF T's can be implemented into my business now, then we can take it to the next level and utilize them as like an X for access. So I think the next big use of NF T's will be in events, mm, turning the ticket of an event into an NF t. And then that NF T ticket can be easily transferred and sold in different marketplaces. And the cool thing is, is that when you convert, you know, a web two ticket into a web three ticket, as long as the marketplace has access to that contract that holds that ticket, it can be listed anywhere, there's no like, going to getting an agreement from this OTA or this OTA or this reseller. As long as they have access to that contract, that contract will state what the terms are. And then the marketplace can either sell it or not. And there's not all these different, you know, signatures and, and documents and approvals needed or red tape is just, that's the beauty of like, web three is decentralized. So no one is really controlling anything specifically. So I mean, even like when I buy a ticket to an event, and I want to resell it, it's not easy like some there are some marketplaces for reselling event tickets that you can get out. But it's for the most part, it's still hard to track. Like I still think it's a pain point in our industry, where web three and if it's if it's non fungible, you know, they can't duplicate it. So, you know, if it's not on the blockchain, it's not it's not confirmed on there, then it's not going to be valid.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I mean, I think there should be a big play there for events, especially with you know, the scams that you get in tickets nowadays. I mean, that that should solve some of it or at least help with, you know, event organizers when they're trying to prevent that but it's interesting. I'm excited to see where it goes and I'm glad that you're at the forefront so that you can keep us filled in.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, yeah, we might need another refresher course here through the course of the year but

Greg Fisher:

yeah, so my advice to anyone that's thinking on getting into it, is to get a wallet, you can go to your iPhone, App Store, download meta mask as an Aetherium wallet and get a theorem in that wallet by going to you can buy in Coinbase people use Coinbase a lot and transfer the Coinbase Aetherium from Coinbase into your meta mask wallet. You have a true decentralized wallet with with meta mask and do something with it like buy a cheap NFT Just to see how the process works, you can actually buy your own eath domain. And I guess Alex's is a good point to talk about, you can actually change your wallet address is comprised of like a tons of letters and numbers, you can get that wallet address change to a address of your choosing. So if you want an Alex hughster dot eath, and you can do that. And I believe that eath is like the the founding or the building blocks of of the future, like I think web three will be heavily utilized with Aetherium. And it doesn't cost much to get your domain if you're if you're a company. And you know how it is like with GoDaddy, Alex went through this with with counter world like domain name, right? Take a couple 100 bucks, get some Etherium go to the ens domains and reserve your name right now. Yeah, whatever names like I've reserved trips, chuck that eith like months ago, because what's happening is these people are doing what what happened, you know, 1520 years ago, right? Buying up every brand name, every destination name, they're buying hundreds and hundreds of these these.edu domain names, and they're gonna sell them back to you for 100 times what they paid.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, listen to that, everybody. That's a key takeaway from this. And when you posted that on LinkedIn, I did it immediately. Because you're really good at spotting these things that you need to do is related to domains. And we got go back and forth on all those stories. But yeah, I think that's definitely great advice for all of our listeners to do.

Annie Holcombe:

So crazy. I still I'm okay, my head is about to explode here. I have bought I have bought Bitcoin into Aetherium and Aetherium. Plus, or I don't know, there's all these other ones, but so much stuff, I think we could have a whole episode devoted to this. And so I think Greg will have you back in like six months to see if Alex and I have figured it out and can talk clearly about it.

Alex Husner:

Exactly. Oh, it'd be great to get Simon Lehman on a on a class with Greg here too. Because when he's involved with D travel over in Europe, which is like the largest blockchain company for travel, I believe over there. So he's got some great information on that. But we're interested to watch it and see it coming more into fruition. But we appreciate you being here so much today, Greg. And I think this was great to hear more about what your journey has been and share that with our audience. And then also, you know, just so you know, where it's going in the future and where trip shock is going to go to. So we're very thankful for your coming today. And we look forward to talking to you again soon. If our audience wants to contact you. What's the best way for them to do that?

Greg Fisher:

Yeah, the easiest way is LinkedIn is just search me Greg Fisher. And just, you know, let's, let's connect, yeah, chat. I'm not going to give you my twitter name, you can but you can go online and figure it out. Yes, like my NF t. So what I do is I separate all my social profiles. So like Twitter is like my NFT crypto, you know, stuff. And then LinkedIn is my like, travel professional stuff. Instagram is like, just personal, you know, things, you know, things I like. So I had to like, I have to change it all up. Because what I find is that if I talk about other things, like on like LinkedIn, if I talk too much about like crypto, then people just start like, not engaging with it. And if I do if I talk about non crypto things on Twitter, then people stop engaging and don't follow so yeah, but that's a good point. That's, that's, yeah, that's about Yeah, yeah. I keep all my personas and different but yeah, LinkedIn definitely is the best spot to hit me up. I would love to connect with your listeners.

Alex Husner:

Awesome. Well, we'll we will include a your link to your LinkedIn page on the show notes. But thank you again, Greg.

Greg Fisher:

All right. Thank you,

Alex Husner:

everybody. I

Greg Fisher Profile Photo

Greg Fisher

Co-Fonder and CEO TripShock!

Since 2009, Greg has worked to transform TripShock into a travel industry giant. Proactive and personable, Mr. Fisher first developed a passion for tourism while studying hospitality at the University of Central Florida. Since then, he has grown TripShock by cultivating strong relationships with partners and employees alike. In his free time, Greg enjoys reading biographies, watching college football, and relaxing with friends and family.