Tour operator Culture Trip plots journey with new owners

A tour operator dubbed ‘the Lonely Planet for the 21st Century’ is to explore a sale after raising more than £130m from investors since launching 12 years ago.

Sky News understands that Culture Trip, whose app has been downloaded more than three million times, is working with advisers on a review of its strategic options, including new investment or an outright sale.

Lazarus Consulting, a mergers and acquisitions advisory boutique, is handling the process.

Sources said a number of parties had already expressed interest in buying a minority or control of the company.

Culture Trip was set up in 2011 and grew rapidly, tapping into millennials’ zeal for ‘authentic’ overseas travel experiences.

The company describes itself as “purpose-led”, and operates small tour groups to far-flung destinations around the world.

Its appointment of Lazarus follows a management buyout last month which saw its previous private equity backers, Czech Republic-based PPF Group, exiting the business.

The company originally focused on generating revenues from advertising, but in the face of competition from technology behemoths Meta Platforms and Google, it switched to selling hotel bookings.

That in turn took Culture Trip into competition with the likes of Expedia and Booking.com, so it elected to shift its emphasis to selling curated trips focused on the millennial demographic.

Ana Jakimovska, chief executive of Culture Trip, said: “Our mission is to connect people through responsible travel to help with loneliness and the climate crisis.

“Since our pivot last year, we’ve achieved incredible growth.

“Our unique curated trips deeply resonate with our engaged community of millennials and we are excited about what the future holds for us.”

Culture Trip has raised money on several occasions, including an $80m Series B round in April 2018.

The company then announced a further, unquantified round of funding in August 2020.

Like the broader travel sector, Culture Trip’s operations were badly hit by the pandemic.

Its digital platforms now boast nine million monthly unique users, and the company has seen revenue growth in the past year of 78%.

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