Easyvoyage, the French travel portal and one of Europe’s biggest online travel firms, has signalled its intention to crack the UK market with the purchase of dealchecker.co.uk.
The acquisition was one of three announced yesterday with German price comparison website TravelJungle and e-marketing agency FSI also bought for a combined €10 million.
Dealchecker represents the lion’s share of that outlay and will become the first base outside of France for EasyVoyage, which counts itself a second only ‘infomediary’ player in Europe to Tripadvisor in terms of visitors.
Founder Jean Pierre Nadir said the triple acquisition will provide the impetus for the company to firmly establish itself among the top ten UK travel media sites with a combined 981,000 unique visitors.
He said it was now within reach of the top five, a position it hopes to claim this year by overhauling Teletext Holidays, Skyscanner and Yahoo! Travel. The deal makes it the fourth largest price comparison site in the UK.
All 20 Dealchecker staff will be retained in the London office and founders Alex Saint, Troy Collins and Andrew Bredon will remain with the company for a year before pursuing other ventures.
One of the attractions for EasyVoyage was the one million subscribers to its Real Deal travel offers newsletter which Nadir said had been carefully nurtured, as well as its brand and technology.
Nadir said the Dealchecker and the lesser known EasyVoyage brands would both be developed alongside one another in the UK benefiting from the synergies the deal will bring.
“The time for consolidation in the infomediary market has arrived,” he said. “If you do not grow you are dead, you must grow your market share. With Dealchecker we now have four million unique users, if you want to be in a strong second position [behind Tripadvisor with 13 million] you must have the ambition of six million.”
Easyvoyage forecasts it will generate €800 million worth of sales in Europe this year for its travel partners, up from €450 million and that this will grow to €1,500 million by 2014. It also expects to nearly double revenues this year to €32 million and continue to grow up to 2014 to €56.8 million.
Germany-based TravelJungle was described as one of the pioneering pan-European online travel brands. It has been under new management since 2008 when its founder dies.
FSI manages four million subscribers supplying a range of deals including travel, an area that will be specifically developed now it is in the Easyvoyage group.
Nadir said the triple acquisition was the biggest Easyvoyage has made since it was founded in 2000 and that the firm has a multi-million Euro war chest to make more acquisitions, although he did not anticipate any further deals imminently.
“During the first six months of 2011 we want to manage the new business but maybe after the second quarter we may have the opportunity to buy another company,” he said.
“We’re incredibly pleased to have made these important additions to our business which have reinforced our leading position. We have ambitious expansion plans for the UK and we aim to achieve €1 billion worth of sales to our partners in 2012. We also hope to grow our UK email database to seven million subscribers in 2013.”
Dealchecker chief executive Alex Saint said: “We felt that Easyvoyage was a great fit for our business and for the team here.”