Arete invests £1.6m in luxury travel venture

A venture that matches holidaymakers to destinations through social media influencer content has secured £1.6m from Liverpool-based investors Arete. Tony McDonough reports

Travel Seen
Travel Seen founders Bill Tannahill, Jen Atkinson and Olga Fahey. Picture by


Liverpool private capital investor Arete is putting £1.6m into an early-stage venture described as a ‘mass luxury travel agency’.

Arete was set up in the city centre in late 2020 by a team of experienced investment specialists and has already concluded deals worth tens of millions of pounds. Its latest deal sees an investment into Travel Seen launched by Jen Atkinson.

Ms Atkinson was chief executive of Chester-based ITC Travel Group. While in the job she featured on BBC2’s Millionaire’s Holiday Club – a behind-the-scenes look at luxury holidays.

She says Travel Seen matches holidaymakers to destinations through social media influencer content, whether it’s a family holiday in Cyprus, a girls’ getaway to Dubai or trip for two to Mauritius, among other destinations across the globe.

Travel Seen will also offer customers exclusive experience packages, inspired by their favourite moments in TV, film and literature. The business enters the market at a time of huge opportunity, following the relaxing of travel restrictions and pent-up demand in the wake of the pandemic.

“As we sat through various lockdowns, we became more dependent on our social media feeds, using them for inspiration and escapism when the freedom of travel was taken away from us,” said Ms Atkinson.

“And although the world is opening up again, there has been a seismic shift in the market. Consumers today are more focused on experience-led content that can influence their decisions, which is where the idea for Travel Seen was born.

“The investment led by Arete will help us to achieve our plans for growth and enable Travel Seen to connect even more holidaymakers with inspiring travel content. Arete really understands the travel industry and that, coupled with its excellent knowledge across digital and technology, will give us a competitive edge.”

Travel Seen inspires bookings using experience-led content from influencers who have been chosen based on their compatibility with holidaymaker search history and social media activity. Ben Hatton, partner at Arete, added: “This investment comes at a time of real change in the sector and Travel Seen offers a unique proposition to the market.

“Our knowledge of the digital environment, along with Jen’s expertise in the travel sector will enable us to assist Travel Seen towards its targets for growth, in what will be a pivotal time for the post-pandemic travel market.”

The venture with Travel Seen adds to Arete’s growing portfolio of travel brands, which includes Fairway Travel, the onsite travel partner for elite professional sporting events, players and media and personalised golf breaks business,

The transaction was led by Ben Hatton and Andy Critchley at Arete. Matt Noon, Elan Iorweth of Hill Dickinson (legal) and Patrick Morris of Fairhurst (tax) also advised on the deal.

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