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Channel 4 joins existing investment funds, Active Partners and Gresham House Ventures, in backing the business. It takes SETsquared Bristol member TravelLocal’s total funding raised to date to over £8 million. Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund offers high-growth digital companies commercial airtime across its network of TV channels in return for an equity share in each business.
TravelLocal is disrupting one of the last segments of travel which remains offline, by connecting clients directly with hand-picked travel experts based in each of its almost 50 destinations worldwide. These trusted, well-established local companies know their country better than anyone – and organise a fully-personalised holiday directly for each client. This bypasses the traditional UK-based middleman, delivering better expertise and fairer value, whilst retaining the security of ABTA and ATOL protection.
Bristol-based TravelLocal launched in 2016 and is building a global brand, having already taken bookings from clients in 39 origin countries around the world and currently offering 49 destinations. Popular holiday options include Costa Rica, Jordan, India, and South Africa. Client feedback is exceptional, with customers particularly valuing the ability to discover the hidden gems known only to locals based in their destination and to contribute more to the local economy by booking with locally owned travel companies.
Founded by Tom Stapleton, Huw Owen and Mark Hudson, the innovative TravelLocal web platform predominantly operates within the mid to long-haul holiday market, focusing on private itineraries for mid to high-end clients. This segment of the travel market is growing strongly, boosted by increasing appetite for authentic, experiential travel, particularly amongst the over-45 demographic. The potential UK market is expected to hit £3.9bn this year, whilst the US market is over £6bn.
TravelLocal’s first TV advertising campaign (Local Knowledge Makes a World of Difference) has been airing in the UK since February and the company plans to use Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund investment to expand its reach across Channel 4’s TV channel portfolio. It has worked closely on its TV campaign and marketing strategy with two experienced angel investors/advisors, James Kydd (Marketing Director of listed estate agency disruptor Purple Bricks Plc, formerly of Virgin) and Alistair Daly (former CMO of listed holidays disruptor On the Beach Plc).
Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund has previously invested in well-known online/disruptor businesses such as eve Sleep, Readly, Festicket, Hussle, Rated People and JobToday. They were especially attracted to TravelLocal by its growth and exceptional client feedback – with a Net Promoter Score of over 80 – as well as the global reach of the brand.
Active Partners, which leads the investor syndicate, invests growth equity in founder-led businesses with a distinctive proposition and strong brand, and has previously funded Soho House, cycling brand Rapha, Secret Cinema and Leon Restaurants.
Gresham House Ventures invests equity of up to £5m in growth businesses, supporting founders with bold ambitions for the future, whilst providing transformational capital and expertise to accelerate business potential.
Commenting on the Channel 4 investment, Tom Stapleton, Managing Director and co-founder says:
“We are in an exciting period of growth at TravelLocal and are delighted to have Channel 4 join us as an investor. Our new TV ad has delivered great success so far and we’re excited about expanding the campaign to gain maximum exposure for our unique tailor-made holiday offering. We strongly believe that booking bespoke holidays with our handpicked, trusted local partners delivers the best holiday experience for our clients, as well as being fairer to these hidden stars of our industry.”
Vinay Solanki, Head of Commercial Growth Fund at Channel 4, says:
“TravelLocal is a superbly run regional UK business serving global markets and, like Channel 4’s own distinctive model, presents a unique take on the travel vertical. Led by an impressive management team, it offers an alternative to classic package holidays, seeking out more authentic experiences at superb-value prices – a great fit for our intellectually curious and upmarket audience. Growth phase businesses like TravelLocal are typical of the digital disruptors which our Commercial Growth Fund seeks to support, enabling access to TV advertising-driven awareness at scale. We are truly delighted to support them.”
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