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There is a growing demand for experiential and wellness travel.
Not in the Guidebooks offer authentic experiential travel designed and delivered by local hosts. From day experiences to longer itineraries all packed with local experiences, premium accommodation, and transfers included making it hassle-free and easy to book.
For this article, we sat down with the CEO, Carol Savage, to find out a little more about the inspiration behind the business.
We’d love to know about your career before Not in the Guidebooks and where you first found that entrepreneurial spark.
I’ve had a varied career but always in marketing , sales and more latterly e-commerce. I’ve had senior marketing roles at brands such as Disney, Whitbread and Pizza Hut.
My first venture was when I was doing my MBA at London Business school. I was pregnant and I set up my first business to help people work flexibly – it was a very different world than it is today! I was able to build this consultancy and recruitment business to over £5m and then sold the business.
My second business was a recipe sharing business which I pitched and won backing for on Dragons Den – and importantly, I learned lots of lessons of what not to do in business.
Thank you for your honesty. So, tell us about this business – what it is, what it aims to achieve?
Not in the Guidebooks is a platform to help travellers find and book the most experiential holidays; staying in unique premium hotels with itineraries packed with authentic experiences all designed and delivered by local hosts. Our vision is To create a world where people connect with locals, and engage with the place and culture in a more intimate way, whilst having a minimum impact on the planet.
Our aim is to expand our catalogue of experiences and experiential holidays, and build an exit-ready £50m+ business.
Currently we sell via Travel Agents and direct to the customer. We are working with most of the UK agency groups including Hays Travel, Travel Counsellors and Coop travel to name a few and they have access to over 12m customers. They are sharing our content to inspire their audience. We also reach direct customers via media partnerships (eg Wanderlust and Sunday Times), social media, SEO and PPC.
How has the business evolved since its launch?
We flipped the business completely – we launched three months before covid as a B2C business. When lockdown happened, we spent the following two years building relationships and contracting agency groups and building our agents platform. We made Not in the Guidebooks focused on solving the problem of how to find and book local operators on one single platform with one single currency for travel agents, so that they could create the most experiential and sustainable trips for their customers.
What can you tell us about the market and how Not in the Guidebooks is positioning itself for success?
The travel market and the travelling consumer has changed quite significantly over the last few years. People are looking for more experiences when they travel – even if they book a beach holiday or a cruise they still want to connect with locals even for just one day when they get to the place they are visiting. The adventure market has grown by 148% since before the pandemic. And many people will choose different types of holidays for different occasions, from coastal holidays to city breaks.
We are positioning ourselves to be the best provider of experiential sustainable travel for when people don’t just want to sit on the beach .
How did your business react to the pandemic and the travel restrictions in place?
When the pandemic hit we turned our business to be a supplier to the trade. We contracted quirky experiential accommodation in the UK as well as English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish experiences. For instance, there is one in Northern Ireland where you stay in a shepherd’s hut and learn wood whittling to make a salad bowl – it’s on my must do list!
Now in 2023, what are the aims of this raise and why is right now the best time to launch the campaign?
We are inundated with demand and we don’t have enough staff to provide the service levels we want to.
We will hire more people (we currently have a ridiculously small team and I am so proud of them for what they have achieved so far) so that we can bring on more experiences and create more excellent informative and inspiring content. We plan to further engage with our agency partners to improve and enhance our technology as well as invest in marketing to build brand awareness and reach new customers.
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
My absolute biggest achievement in my life so far is my three awesome sons! As a working mum, I think it does really great things for your children to witness your hard work and it’s brought out a really strong work ethic in them. However to make it really work I made sure I was there for all the important moments of my family’s life.
Aside from my family, completing my MBA whilst on maternity leave to being offered either funding or a job from all the dragons on Dragon’s Den!
And then with Not in the Guidebooks, setting up a travel company three months before the pandemic and navigating one of the craziest times in business, I am so proud of the fantastic team and strong brand we’ve built.
Not in the Guidebooks is a premium responsible travel platform offering immersive local experiences for independent travellers. The campaign is a great opportunity to join a mission to create authentic, unique travel experiences whilst being hassle-free.
Check out the campaign page to learn more.