W investment in LOTUS heralds new dawn for travel marketing
W today announces it has taken a majority stake in industry-leading specialist travel consultancy LOTUS. Both multi-award winners in their sectors, the deal will create a partnership launching a new agency offering in the travel landscape.
A win-win for both agencies and their clients. On the one hand it will deepen and broaden W’s travel expertise thanks to LOTUS’s extensive understanding of the sector and service offer that stretches beyond PR to marketing, representation and consultancy. On the other, LOTUS and their clients will benefit from an enhanced level of creativity and lifestyle connectivity that has the power to drive real change in the travel sector marketing.
The deal is designed around the idea of an ‘earn-in’ not an ‘earn-out’ - W’s majority stake will see it work closely with agency founder and CEO, Sarah Johnson, and board directors Jules Ugo and Kate McWilliams, on their ambitious growth plans and build a full-service travel offering as part of the wider W UK and global businesses.
W’s existing travel client base - ranging from Hard Rock Hotel (London) and The Pig in the UK to Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts and Club Med in Asia - will benefit from best in class category insight and travel business intelligence, whilst its lifestyle clients will enjoy (where needed) unparalleled travel industry connectivity and insight.
Operating at the heart of the travel and tourism industry and current winner of the UK Travel Marketing Awards ‘Best Representation Agency’ LOTUS is truly best in class with an unrivalled client roster including flagship national tourist boards, global hotel chains and transport providers. Commercial understanding is at the heart of LOTUS’ campaigns whether it’s launching new hotel and airline routes or devising tourism strategies for national and regional governments. Its success in this field has led to approaches from other destination sectors, including the food industry, who tasked LOTUS with finding new routes to market for the Alaska seafood industry.
Warren Johnson, Founder & CEO of W, said: “Sarah, Jules and Kate have built an incredible business with an enviable client roster and enormous potential. The W team and I are looking forward to working to take the business to the next level. It is another demonstration of the intent of our business to seek out acquisitions that enable us to further grow W beyond the confines of organic growth and continue to build out best in class sector expertise.”
Sarah Johnson, Founder &CEO of LOTUS, said: “Since our initial meeting with Warren and the W team, the opportunity this partnership presented was clear. W have outstanding creative credentials, three wins at the recent PR Week Awards, seven Lions at this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity and multiple Sabre Awards - no travel marketing company is in this space. Travel is a resilient industry showing growth at a time when many sectors are not, we can’t wait to start this new era!”
LOTUS will keep its name and continue to trade from its offices in London Bridge. Meanwhile, the deal will give it access to additional business services and input from the senior W team. W Founder & Global CEO Warren Johnson will join the board, along with Managing Director, Richard Tompkins.
W is one of Britain’s largest independent agencies, offering a full range of earned marketing services ranging from consumer & corporate PR and earned & paid social to SEO, snackable & ad-grade content creation, events and influencer engagement. Its clients range from big consumer brands such as Spotify, Three Mobile, MoneySuperMarket, Levi’s and Carabao to media brands such as the London Evening Standard and Shortlist Media and cultural icons such as the Ministry of Sound and the Hard Rock Hotel (London). Founded in 2009, W has offices in Newcastle, Amsterdam & Singapore and includes a growing group of agile, specialist consultancies, including House, Facets and now LOTUS.
Alongside 7 Cannes Lions this summer for CALM’s Project 84, W recently won three times at the PR Week Awards 2018 - Most Innovative Use of Digital and Best Not For Profit Campaign for CALM and Best Financial Services Campaign for MoneySuperMarket. It is currently shortlisted for two campaigns at the 2018 Drum Social Buzz Awards and won EMEA Consumer Agency of the Year at the 2017 Sabre Awards.
LOTUS is the leading travel communications specialist. Founded in 2017 the business represents flagship brands in the travel, hospitality and also food sector including national tourist boards (Spanish National Tourist Office, Greek National Tourism Organisation), global hotel chains (Palladium Hotel Group), attractions (Efteling) and transport providers (Heathrow Express), amongst others.
Proud winner of Travel Marketing and Transform awards and acknowledged by TTG in 2017 as ‘Leading PR and Representation Agency’ the team of 20 operates out of offices in London Bridge.