Not in the Guidebooks plans fams as it ramps up trade engagement

Experiences specialist Not in the Guidebooks aims to double its sales in 2024 following a second round of investment and more support for travel agent partners.

The company raised £502,000 in its second round of fundraising earlier this year, with about 50 agents among those investing amounts ranging from £10 to £25,000.

Company founder and chief executive Carol Savage said sales for 2023 are up by 14% on 2022 – and the cash injection means it can double sales in 2024.

The money has already enabled Not in the Guidebooks to take on more recruits in recent weeks, including Michelle Thake as business development manager; Jamie-Lee Abtar as marketing manager; and Huw Price as product manager.

Thrake will be meeting agents in their shops and at conferences to provide training and materials to help them source “authentic experiences”.

“Scaling up means we are better able to service agents,” said Savage, who set up the company in December 2019.

“We are trying to expand our team to spread the word that sustainable travel is not about compromise, you can have a really great experience.

“And we can focus on tech too to make it easier to search and book.”

More: Not in the Guidebooks recruits business development manager

Not in the Guidebooks expands team

Not in the Guidebooks seeks investment from travel agents

Not in the Guidebooks works with about 8,000 independent agents from a range of groups and consortia, and about 80-85% of its experiences are sold via agents.

“Most agents working with us are independent and entrepreneurial and want to stand out,” said Savage.

“There is a huge swathe of people who do not just want to sit on a beach. They want to get under the skin of a place.

“All our marketing, all our focus is agents. Agents are fundamental.”

Savage said a new dashboard enables agents to personalise itineraries with their contact details and seasonal content to help them to create bespoke itineraries.

“Agents are key to our success, as we try to make tourism a force for good,” she said.

“There is a huge opportunity for tourism to be sustainable.

“We want to make it easier for agents and share best practice.”

She is also looking at fam trips and training opportunities for agents to showcase the company’s products and share tips about sustainability and reducing waste.

Not in the Guidebooks recently held a lunch in London for about a dozen partner agents to hear their thoughts, and more such lunches are planned elsewhere.

“The feedback was that they wanted to understand more about sustainability,” said Savage.

She described the company’s experiences as “soft adventure”, helping travellers to connect with locals, support communities and have positive impact on the planet.

“Customers are not specifically asking for sustainable travel but it is creating a better future and agents can help drive the industry,” she said.

“It is great for the planet – be part of the solution not the problem.”

She said destinations range from the snowy landscapes of Lapland to the rainforests of Costa Rica, while experiences on offer include activities such as cooking, painting and wellness.

A 15-day Costa Rica East to West itinerary costs from £2,767, while the Ultimate Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track tour is from £3,555, also for 15 days.

A three-night family adventure in Apukka, in Finnish Lapland, costs £2,965 for two adults and two children.

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