The single holidays specialist has created a new holding company called The Fabulous Experience Company to operate as a division alongside Solo’s. The combined group is backed by five shareholders.
Baobab Expeditions now operates as one of the new division’s brands. It plans to develop sub-brands in the ski, safari, conservation and nature markets.
Longer term, soft adventure brands are planned under the Fabulous Experience name, such as Fabulous Norway.
Solo’s and The Fabulous Experience Company managing director Andrew Williams said the focus initially is to develop Baobab. “We have other ideas such as developing luxury villas, and we are looking at various markets, but they are on hold at the moment,” he said.
Baobab was founded in 2005 by Richard Pfaeffli, who has been made managing director of the division’s brands.
Baobab will now look to work with selected independent travel agents for the first time to sell its product, which includes upmarket wildlife tours, safaris, conservation and ski holidays.
The move to work with agents follows Solo’s – so far up to 40 agents have expressed an interest in selling through the operator, although sales are not expected to make up more than 5% of bookings in the short term.
Williams, who was sales director for MyTravel-owned Bridge Travel in the early 1990s, said: “We see the trade as a good source of distribution.”
Baobab, which has a mini-ATOL for 500 passengers, has exclusive partnerships with The AfriCat Foundation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Save The Rhino. Average selling prices are around £3,000-£3,500.
Currently 80% of Baobab’s sales come through international markets, including the US and Europe, and the rest through the UK. “We want to get a 50-50 split between the UK, and the US and Europe,” said Pfaeffli.