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We are bringing the fair trade ethos to tailor-made travel, using the power of the internet

Clients can book directly with local experts in £10 billion global tailor-made holidays market

• No one knows a country better than local travel experts in the destination
• A fairer deal for local travel companies and a better experience for clients
• Local travel companies and their guides are the unsung heroes of the industry
• Carefully selected local experts and financial protection backed by ABTA

Bristol-based is bringing the ‘buy local’ movement to tailor-made holidays, by connecting travellers directly with carefully selected local travel companies in their destinations around the world.

Its innovative new global booking platform, launched today, enables customers to create their holidays with the real experts in their destination, cutting out travel agents and international travel companies, whilst also benefiting from 100% financial protection backed by ABTA (Britain's globally respected travel industry association). The result is a fairer deal for local travel companies and a better experience for clients.

“We are turning the tailor-made travel business on its head and radically improving it – and our customers love it. After all, no one knows a country better than its local travel experts. Why book with travel agents thousands of miles away from your destination, who only rarely visit it, when you can now go direct?” says co-founder Tom Stapleton.

At launch customers can browse unique experiences around the world, including meeting famous author Pascal Khoo Thwe in Burma; using the Soviet-era Metro to explore Tashkent, Uzbekistan; stalking with the Hadzabe Bushmen of Tanzania and visiting village chocolatiers in Guatemala.

Customers Want to Go Local and Direct

The trend towards tailor-made travel has grown rapidly in recent years, with travellers looking to get away from the tourist trail and also to explore more unusual destinations. However, it is one of the few remaining segments of the travel industry which has yet to move online. TravelLocal is changing this by giving the local travel companies hosted on its new platform the technology and market access they need to take on traditional travel agencies and companies.

“ We are bringing the fair trade ethos to tailor-made travel, using the power of the internet . Many travellers want to book with a travel company in their destination, but they don’t know which ones to trust and they rightly worry about transferring money abroad. TravelLocal solves this by carefully selecting excellent local travel companies, by providing ABTA-backed financial protection for all bookings and by taking payment in the UK” says co-founder Huw Owen.

Global Bookings

The company has already attracted a global customer base with its radical new approach, with bookings from clients in 13 countries to date on its existing website, including the UK, USA, China, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Dubai and Brazil.

The platform is easy to use for both customers and the local travel companies. Customers can browse the destination pages for inspiration, engage directly with the local tour operators to refine the trip and book the entire holiday securely online.

Sally Yeshin, a client from London in the UK, has just booked her third tailor-made holiday using “TravelLocal gives us the freedom to go straight to great local companies in the country we're visiting - a brilliant and simple idea. With it we get real local knowledge and expertise, more of our money benefits the country and its people– and it’s all ABTA protected” she said.

Carefully Selected Local Travel Companies

TravelLocal currently showcases local travel companies from more than 35 countries around the world including, for example, Burma, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Argentina. It will expand to cover 80 destinations on its new online platform in the next six months.

TravelLocal thoroughly assesses its selected local travel companies, working only with those which will deliver a reliable, professional service as well as original and authentic experiences. They all have strongly positive customer feedback ratings from international clients and demonstrate high levels of innovation and creativity, as well as being locally-owned.

Olga Magurdumova of ICTS, TravelLocal’s local travel company in Uzbekistan, commented “TravelLocal’s new online platform is a big step forward for us and long overdue. It enables us to communicate our expertise directly with clients, which we haven’t previously been able to do. Its online itinerary generator software also means we can present our itineraries to them beautifully - and in our own words.”

The new platform has sample trips from each featured local travel company, including a 14 day cultural trip to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan for £1775 per person (not including flights); a 9 day trip to Kalimantan, Indonesia, to see Orangutans for £700 per person (not including flights); and a 14 day journey across Nicaragua for £1470 per person (not including flights).

Having talked to local experts around the world Tom and Huw think there are new trends emerging. "There are some lesser known countries starting to shine through now - we can see increasing interest in destinations such as Uganda, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Laos. Customers either want to visit more unusual places, or they want to visit more mainstream destinations in a deeper and more varied way. It's fantastic for the local tour operators on our platform, who know their own countries in much greater detail than you find elsewhere" said Huw.

"We can also see customers becoming braver - especially families. We regularly have requests from families looking to go to some very far flung places. They're after authenticity and novelty, they love the local angle, but they want the ABTA logo and sense of security that a UK-based platform brings" added Tom.

Local Experts are the Unsung Heroes

TravelLocal was founded in 2012 by Tom Stapleton and Huw Owen, who met while working for a leading high street tailor-made travel company in the UK. Believing that the local travel companies and their guides are the unsung heroes of the industry, they launched TravelLocal to change that. The company is funded by a group of private investors and is expanding beyond the UK into international markets.

TravelLocal aims to become the preferred choice for travellers booking tailor-made holidays anywhere in the world. “We believe that this is the future of our industry – local and direct, providing a better experience for the client and a fairer deal for the local travel companies” says Huw Owen.

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Notes to editors.

TravelLocal was founded by Huw Owen and Tom Stapleton in 2012. Its new online booking platform and website will officially launch in May 2016.

About TravelLocal

TravelLocal is all about bespoke travel - with a difference.

We help you to create holidays your way, with carefully selected local experts in your destination. Since 2012 we have scoured the globe to find these expert companies - entrepreneurs and innovators from Argentina to Zanzibar and anywhere in between. They know where you’re going better than anyone. These experts craft unforgettable trips, unique to you, combining your ideas with their local knowledge and contacts, to bring the world to life. So you get a better, more authentic holiday experience and they get a fairer deal. And for peace of mind, your booking is 100% protected financially, because we’re members of ABTA.

How it Works

The TravelLocal platform is designed to be the safest, easiest way for customers around the world to book with local tour operators in their destination. Travellers can create and book their trip in 4 easy steps:

1. Browse - look through the destination pages on the TravelLocal platform for inspiration.

2. Engage - submit an enquiry form on the TravelLocal platform and begin planning with the local expert.

3. Refine - use the messaging system to refine the trip until it's perfect.

4. Book - confirm and pay for the trip safely online, with all payments bonded by ABTA.

About Tom Stapleton, Co-Founder, Joint Managing Director

Tom is originally from Kent, in England and loves real ale and trains. In hindsight TravelLocal wouldn’t have worked without this unique combination - we talked strategy on long train journeys and got creative at the local pub, all in the service of our travel revolution.

Tom does many things for TravelLocal, but spends much of his day choosing and communicating with the amazing local travel companies with whom we work. He has worked in the travel industry since 2005 so knows where to look and what to ask.

He has travelled to many of our destinations and has a real passion for India. Tom’s favourite travel memory is finishing a bottle of wine with an Iranian couple on the Istanbul-Tehran Express, just before the Iranian border!

About Huw Owen, Co-Founder

Huw is originally from Wales, as his name gives away, and is a failed musician, which has had no effect whatsoever on TravelLocal. However he has lived and worked in some far flung places - as a teacher in Japan, managing a local travel company in Cambodia and latterly working with the UN to mentor local travel entrepreneurs in Uganda and Egypt. He has worked in the travel industry since 2003.
Huw spends most of his time extolling the benefits of buying local to just about anyone who will listen, and ensuring that our customers are well looked after. He has travelled all over the globe, but reserves a special place in his heart for Central Asia. His favourite travel memory is exploring Uganda’s art scene with a brilliant local artist.

The tailor-made travel market

Spend on tailor-made holidays is estimated to be £6.5 billion in the UK and Europe and $5.5 billion in North America.

Our market size estimates are based on our own calculations derived from companies house data, Mintel and Euromonitor and only cover the UK and USA. Estimates vary widely as there is no agreed, precise measure.

For more information contact Catherine at Seriously PR - / 01491 822645.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Seriously PR in the following categories: Business & Finance, Travel, for more information visit