Original Article

Liftopia lifted off during the '06-07 season by selling discounted tickets online for seven resorts. That number jumped to 40 this year. Evan Reece and Ron Schneiderman co-founded the company with seed money from family and friends. Now, thanks to an announcement last week that the company has completed a Series A round of funding, it appears there won't be many more missed lunches.

"The mountain resort industry is spending more and more on capital improvements," Reece told The Industry Report. "It's our goal to help them efficiently market and sell the inventory they have, regardless of season." He said Liftopia helps resorts "flatten their revenue curves" by most effectively distributing products from lift tickets to lessons, rentals, and even summer activities.

The new investors are no slouches when it comes to Web travel marketing. Among them is Erik Blachford, Expedia's former CEO. Both Reece and Schneiderman come out of the online travel arena where, at Hotwire.com, they helped the Web site's partners sell excess inventory.

"The largest percentage of the new funding will go to marketing the products we have for sale on the site," he told the IR. The company had been coy on explaining fund usage in its blog ("we can't go into details here, right now, but keep your eyes peeled over the next few months...").

Reece explained that Liftopia had been building traffic and sales until now through "grass roots and word of mouth." He said they did not have the marketing budget to "push the brand to as many people as we would like."

He said the resorts were providing his company with "these great deals to generate incremental sales and now we'll have the means to better fulfill our end of the bargain through marketing these deals and getting them out to new customers." He said funding is now available for improving the ease of use of the Web site and expanding available products.

Liftopia resort partners have the ability to adjust pricing up and down based on the day of the week, weather conditions, and other demand components. Tickets and products, once purchased, cannot be canceled, which seals the deal for resort operators. The company is selling tickets this season in Alaska, British Columbia, So. California, Lake Tahoe, Colorado, New York, New England, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Written by Craig Altschul on March 17, 2008 01:00 AM |