ICON Corporate Finance advises TravelLocal on its £8.3 million Series B to accelerate international growth

ICON Corporate Finance has advised TravelLocal, a leading brand and online marketplace platform for tailor-made holidays, on its £8.3 million Series B funding round to accelerate international growth.

Tech-focused investment bank ICON introduced lead investor Puma Private Equity to invest alongside existing investors Active Partners and Gresham House Ventures on the round.

TravelLocal’s innovative marketplace model is revolutionising tailor-made holidays by connecting its customers directly with handpicked, trusted local travel experts based in their destination – 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 in the UK). TravelLocal has helped more than 70,000 customers create their perfect trip since launching in 2016.

The company has a global brand and receives bookings from clients worldwide. It is growing rapidly, as travellers demand genuinely authentic, more sustainable holidays and prioritise spending on experiences. TravelLocal achieves an exceptional Net Promoter Score (NPS) of over 80, amongst the highest in the travel sector.

The new funding will help accelerate the company’s international growth, including investment in its managed marketplace platform and further brand marketing (including broadcasting its latest TV advert “Global Travel, Local Experts”). With this funding round, the business enters its next exciting chapter, with annual bookings already over USD 50m and growing well over 100% year on year.

This Series B funding round follows the highly successful merger in July 2021 of TravelLocal (UK) and Trip.me (Germany), both now fully integrated under the TravelLocal brand. TravelLocal has offices in Bristol and Berlin with colleagues also working remotely across the world.

The TravelLocal platform enables bookings with over 500 individual local travel experts around the world, who create truly personalised itineraries directly with and for the client. They work in 271 curated partner companies and are the ‘hidden stars’ of the legacy travel industry, to whom clients now have direct access by booking with TravelLocal. Many travellers care deeply about making their holidays more responsible and sustainable, and TravelLocal’s approach helps to fulfil this, by enabling direct access. By dealing directly with experts in locally incorporated companies, who know and care passionately about their communities and ecosystems, more client spend remains in the local economy of the destination.

Eddie Harding, Partner at ICON Corporate Finance, said: “We’re delighted to have helped Tom and the team complete this latest funding round in TravelLocal, and, given the astounding growth that the company has experienced post-COVID pandemic, we weren’t surprised by the significant level of interest we received from investors. TravelLocal is now at a very exciting stage in its business plan and this new funding from Puma and the existing investors will help the company to continue to meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for more meaningful and ‘experiential’ tailor-made holidays.”

Tom Stapleton, CEO, says: “TravelLocal has performed very strongly again coming out of the pandemic as people travel extensively – and increasingly with a strong desire to do so in a more sustainable, meaningful way, that supports local people and economies. Our unique business model enables everyone to do just that. This funding round reflects the excellent growth opportunity we now have, and the first class team we have built to tackle it.”

Mark Hudson, Executive Chairman commented: “We are very happy with the ongoing support of our growth investors Active Partners and GHV, who were hugely supportive through the pandemic, and delighted to welcome Puma Private Equity into this exciting next stage of our journey. This funding round is a validation of the amazing company we are building, and the passion and hard work our team puts in to delight our customers every day.”

Mark Lyons, Investment Director, Puma Private Equity: “Although incomes are being squeezed in the current environment, travel continues to be a priority expenditure for many and baby boomers are spending $120 billion annually on leisure travel. We believe there is huge scope for TravelLocal to grow and continue transforming the tailor-made holiday industry.

“We are really encouraged by the strength of the management team and the resilience of the business post its merger in 2021 which has significantly increased its global reach. This investment will enable the team to do more to engage with their target audience, in particular their expanding base of US clients.”

The investors in this round are Puma Private Equity (other investments include: Pockit, Influencer and Ron Dorff), Active Partners (Soho House, Leon, Secret Cinema, Rapha), and Gresham House Ventures (Buster & Punch, Bleach and Bella & Duke). Active Partners and Gresham House Ventures are making their third investments in the company following the Series A and the merger in 2021. All three funds now have a broadly similar overall amount invested in the business. Channel 4 Ventures (WhatThreeWords, Pinterest) also recently increased its media-for-equity investment.

The corporate finance advisor to the company was Eddie Harding at ICON Corporate Finance and the legal advisor was John Finnemore at CMS.

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Lisa Baker is the Editor of Always Finance, and writes about Business, Finance Technology and Healthcare. Lisa is also the owner of Need to See IT Publishing.