Tailor-made holiday group TravelLocal.com is looking at sales through the trade after merging with Berlin-based trip.me and raising additional funds from investors.
The Bristol-based firm, launch five years ago, has received a £2.5 million cash injection from led by investment firm Active Partners, a backer of Soho House and Leon, and Gresham House Ventures, an investor in Crew Clothing.
TravelLocal received early backing from TV broadcaster Channel 4 via its commercial growth fund.
The latest funding, as Covid restrictions are lifted, will help fuel growth of the business as the sector rebounds following the pandemic and brings the total raised by the combined entities to £13 million.
Initially both brands will be retained, given their strengths in different markets, pending a strategic brand review.
The existing teams and headcount will not be affected by the merger, the company said. The merged firm’s advisory board includes former On the Beach chief marketing officer Alistair Daly.
The merger was described as creating “one of the most significant online marketplaces for tailor-made travel”, with a strong presence in both English and German-language markets.
“Given the anticipated boom in demand after the pandemic both management teams and their investors see a once-in-a-generation opportunity in the tie-up, bringing together two of the leading teams in the industry and significant market share,” a joint statement said.
Travel Weekly understands that the enlarged business is looking at B2B sales into the trade as well as part of the merger, with more details expected later in the year.
The merged group has customers in more than 100 countries, with a significant presence in the US, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia, and offers nearly 100 destinations.
Both businesses were growing fast prior to the pandemic, as a result of consumer demand for authentic, responsible travel and growing digital penetration in booking personalised holidays.
The merged business will continue to focus on tailor-made private itineraries for mid- to high-end clients, primarily in the long-haul and mid-haul segments.
“This part of the travel market grew strongly pre-Covid, boosted by increasing appetite for authentic, experiential travel, particularly amongst the over-40 demographic,” TravelLocal said.
Chief executive Tom Stapleton added: “Covid is accelerating an epochal change in the travel industry.
“Ethical and sustainable travel that contributes substantially and directly into local economies is at the forefront of global consumer trends now.
“This merger combines the strength of two of the most significant pioneers in this area at the perfect time.”
Matthias Woppman, co-founder of trip.me, said: “The combination of TravelLocal and trip.me is a powerful one, really opening up international growth potential and significantly expanding our destination coverage and supply. We can see signs of recovery now and look forward to accelerating into the rebound of travel.”
An Active Partners spokesperson said: “We are hugely excited about TravelLocal and trip.me’s combined offering, and see a bright future ahead for the merged businesses.
“With such significant appetite for travel in the wake of the pandemic, TravelLocal and trip.me together are uniquely positioned to meet rising consumer demand and deliver authentic, personalised experiences for consumers around the world, delivered with sustainability and social impact in mind.
“We’re delighted to support the team through their next phase of growth and are optimistic about a strong recovery for the sector.”