TravelLocal merges with trip.me to create global online marketplace for tailor-made travel and take full advantage of the post-pandemic rebound of international travel
SETsquared Bristol alumnus, TravelLocal.com, the global tailor-made holidays platform, has announced that it has merged with Berlin-based trip.me, and raised additional funding from existing growth investors. The merger creates one of the most significant online marketplaces for tailor-made travel, with a strong presence in both English-language 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.
The merged business has customers in more than 100 countries worldwide, with a significant presence in the USA, the UK, Germany, Canada and Australia, and offers nearly 100 destinations. Both businesses were growing extremely fast prior to the pandemic, as a result of the confluence of consumer trends (demand for authentic, responsible travel) and growing digital penetration in booking personalised holidays.
Both TravelLocal and trip.me share an innovative model: connecting a global clientele directly with handpicked, trusted local travel experts based in nearly 100 countries worldwide, who know their country better than anyone. This combines the benefits of human advice from vetted local experts, the convenience of being able to book online and full consumer financial protection through ABTA and ATOL. It also results in a more sustainable way to create and enjoy personalised holidays – with more client spend remaining in the local economy of the destination.
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.
Together with the merger, a £2.5 million Series A extension has been raised, led by consumer-focused investment firm Active Partners (investor in Soho House, Leon, Secret Cinema and Rapha) and Gresham House Ventures (investor in Pho, Crew Clothing, Vinoteca). It will help fuel the business’ growth as the sector rebounds following the pandemic and brings the total raised by the combined entities to £13 million to date.
The brands are market leaders in the UK and Germany respectively, and with outstanding reputations (each with a Net Promoter Score over 80). TravelLocal was also one of the few UK travel companies to have fully honoured its refund obligations, being recognised for this with inclusion in the Which? list of “24 travel companies you can trust with your money” (published by the UK consumer watchdog during the Covid pandemic in 2020). 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.
Commenting on the merger, Tom Stapleton, CEO, says: “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 comments: “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.”
Quote from Active Partners: “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.”