28th June 2019

Independent travel company goes the extra mile

How Pemberton helped a UK-based travel business take off on a continued growth trajectory.


The travel sector has grown significantly over the past 10 years, as technology has disrupted everything from search, booking and hotel management to corporate travel and mass market consumer tourism.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, independent travel company Travel Counsellors connects a global community of informed travel consumers with expert travel advisors, who specialise in creating travel experiences that put customer needs and human touch first.

The company empowers a growing pool of experienced travel professionals in seven countries across the globe, with the technology and support platform to run their own corporate and leisure travel businesses, working flexibly from home and other shared offices. The result is a global, digitally connected community of hundreds of people sharing knowledge, experience and expertise, supporting over 700,000 customers to explore the world and enjoy bespoke, tailor-made travel itineraries at the same time.

Its differentiated, highly personalised approach has resulted in an industry-leading customer satisfaction score of 96%, driving organic growth through repeat bookings and the trusted relationships nurtured between individual Travel Counsellor business owners and their customers.

New chapter, new financing needs

Following years of successive growth, in June 2018, Travel Counsellors secured a secondary private equity investment when Vitruvian Partners invested in the business. A move that triggered Pemberton to support the investment as a sole lender.

The Pemberton solution

The highly complex and changing requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which regulates travel companies, meant that the financing process was far from straight forward. In light of this, Pemberton were able to provide a customised solution working closely with both Vitruvian and Travel Counsellors, via a Term Loan B financing.

With the capital in place, Steve Byrne, Travel Counsellors CEO, is leading the team in an ambitious innovation and growth strategy, which includes the further recruitment of travel entrepreneurs and business owners, domestically and abroad, increased presence in the corporate travel market, continued investment in technology to support the growth of each Travel Counsellor’s business, and a focus on nurturing and developing talent across the company.

Pemberton were key to the success of our most recent investment, helping us to scale the business and invest in the technology and support we provide to our corporate and leisure travel business owners and colleagues. The team at Pemberton quickly grasped our business model and company values, and by working with Vitruvian Partners, helped to support the platform for each of our individual Travel Counsellors to deliver outstanding booking and travel experiences to their customers, and accelerate the growth of their businesses.

Steve Byrne, the CEO of Travel Counsellors, on partnering with Pemberton

Pemberton proved themselves to be agile and client-focussed, providing a significant bespoke commitment to our portfolio company which contributed to the closing of the transaction despite many complex and novel factors. Their partnership approach and steadfast support to our company is appreciated.

Ben Johnson, Partner at Vitruvian Partners