It only took two weeks after Amsterdam-based TravelBird officially filed for insolvency for its assets to get acquired, the Financieele Dagblad reports. The UK-based Secret Escapes, a competing travel booking platform with a luxury focus, has made the largest bid “by far,” according to the bankruptcy curator Jan Padberg. The British company will receive the intellectual property, the IT platform, the Travelbird brand, the logos, and the customer base.
The report also unveils that Secret Escapes and Travelbird had been talking about an acquisition deal for a few months, but the British company abruptly withdrew from negotiations right before the insolvency filing. This could be explained by Secret Escapes looking into Travelbird’s books and seeing what’s coming; it’s easy to guess that the buyer ended up getting a much better deal now than what could be discussed in October.
An anonymous developer from Travelbird told the FD that two of the most important assets Secret Escapes would probably be after are the huge database of both customers and suppliers across the world and the startup’s “dynamic packaging” technology. The latter allowed Travelbird’s customers to book not only travel and accommodation but also things like car rental and tours as part of one package, streamlining and significantly speeding up the booking process.
The team of some 300 people previously employed by Travelbird was not part of the deal with Secret Escapes, however, it seems like they’re already attracting a lot of interest from recruiters in talent-hungry Amsterdam. Padberg mentioned to the FD that the team members are being approached and pulled away “aggressively” and that there was “no need” to protect their jobs in this case.
Padberg expects that Secret Escapes would get Travelbird’s website and operations back online within the next few weeks, calling this turnaround one of the fastest relaunches in his career.
Secret Escapes, founded in the UK in 2010 — the same year as TravelBird, — works in more than 20 countries including the Netherlands and employs some 480 people. The company has raised more than £200 million in funding, including the last £52 million capital injection in July.
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