Secret Escapes Secures Funds Led by Index Ventures

Secret Escapes, an online luxury travel club, has secured 8 million pounds ($12.9 million) of new funding. Index Ventures led the funding round with participation from existing investors Octopus Ventures and Atlas Venture. Torch Partners advised Secret Escapes on the fundraising.


Secret Escapes, the independent online luxury travel club, which runs exclusive flash sales of four and five-star hand-picked hotels and holidays worldwide, has secured £8 million of new funding to strengthen the company’s lead in the UK market and support international expansion plans. Index Ventures led the funding round with participation from existing investors Octopus Ventures and Atlas Venture, and Torch Partners advised Secret Escapes on the fundraising.*

The news of the funding follows what has been so far a remarkable year for the start-up, which has achieved a massive 1400% increase in revenue in the year leading up to August 2012 and a compound monthly increase of 24% in revenue since January 2012.

Secret Escapes’ membership in 2012 has grown by an impressive 1.3 million and now boasts over two million members since its launch in January 2011, making it one of the most important emerging channels for the travel and hotel industry. The company has also worked with over 1,000 hotels and travel partners, many running multiple offers during any calendar year, firmly establishing Secret Escapes as the leading player in the sector after less than two years of operation.

Alex Saint, CEO of Secret Escapes, commented: “Our extraordinary growth, given the economic challenges facing the industry, is a testament that we are delivering successfully to our members and high end consumers. The mindset of travellers seeking luxury has changed and everyone is looking for a quality deal that represents good value whatever they are buying. We guarantee the best available rates anywhere online and this is why business is so good. Not only have we delivered for our members, we’re also now seen as a valuable tool for hotel revenue managers as part of their long term strategy to increase occupancy rates in their hotels and resorts.”

“We think our model is second to none and we’re delighted to welcome Index Ventures as investors to the company. The funding will offer us the extra leverage to develop the brand, extend the range and choice of travel offers so that we can give our customers even better value and expand aggressively in the UK. It will also provide the capital we need to fuel our international expansion. We have ambitious plans and aim to double our membership to over four million by the end of 2013 with an even bigger anticipated increase in revenues.”

Ben Holmes, partner at Index Ventures who will join the board commented:”The Secret Escapes team has shown remarkable flair in creating a set of travel offers which really resonate with customers. The Company has also exhibited high repeat usage and customer satisfaction metrics which we see as the hallmarks of a great online business.

Alliott Cole of Octopus Ventures said: “We’re really pleased to continue backing Alex and the rest of his very talented team. We have been fortunate enough to partner the business from inception and we look forward to doing everything we can to help the business grow even faster in this next phase.”

Secret Escapes also plans to launch a number of brand new products in the coming year including Secret Escapes Impulse which will embrace the last minute travel getaways concept and offer last minute deals where members can check in on the same day they book.


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Notes to editors:

* Torch Partners advised Secret Escapes on the transaction.

Highlights of 2012 results so far include:

– 1400% growth in revenue, year on year, from August 2011 – August 2012
– 24% compound monthly revenue growth this year (since Jan 2012)
– Over two million members

About Secret Escapes is a free-to-join members website, which runs exclusive and ‘best in market’ flash sales of four and five-star hotels and holidays worldwide. The hotels and holidays are handpicked and cover UK country house hotels and cities; luxury European and long-haul breaks as well as flight inclusive packages.
Launched in February 2011 and headed up by CEO Alex Saint and managing director Tom Valentine, the company works with its leading hotel, tour operator and travel agent partners to negotiate outstanding rates for its 2 million+ audience, available through week-long sales.

Secret Escapes does not use a voucher service. The company sells actual dates and rooms via a booking engine which means that customers can book their holiday or hotel stay directly on the Secret Escapes website.

About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm active in technology and biotechnology investing since 1996. From our offices in Geneva, London and San Francisco we love to discover and support the most entrepreneurial teams wherever they are looking to build market defining global businesses.

About Octopus Ventures
The ventures team at Octopus are straight talking human investors that back talented people rather than specific sectors focuses. We focus on identifying fast growth businesses which can scale explosively to create, transform or dominate an industry. We can invest from £250,000 to £5 million and prefer to partner teams based in the UK.

The work of our ventures team is supported by access to the Octopus Venture Partners, a network of approximately 100 outstanding business leaders, entrepreneurs and private investors providing an invaluable wealth of expertise and resource for our portfolio companies, as well as investing on a deal-by-deal basis alongside Octopus venture funds. This blend of knowledge and skill has allowed us to help many great companies across several sectors thrive in recent years including LoveFiLM; Zoopla;; Calastone and SwiftKey.