Skift Take

Not surprising that the private equity-backed Active Adventures decided to buy Austin Adventures to fill its geographic and inventory gaps. Expect more mergers as tour operators look to consolidate their marketing efforts during the pandemic.

Active Adventures, a tour operator based in Queenstown, New Zealand, has merged with Austin Adventures of Montana. The two, decades-old companies specialize in all-inclusive, multi-day adventure itineraries for groups sizes typically of six to 18 people.

“To expand our offerings to our loyal customers, it was critical that we find a like-minded brand to join forces with,” said Wendy van Lieshout, CEO of Active Adventures and the merged companies.

The privately held companies didn’t disclose the terms of the transaction. Active Adventures was bought in 2017 by a consortium led by Blue Sky Alternative Investments. Austin Adventures hadn’t raised venture funding.

Wendy van Lieshout CEO Active Adventures

Wendy van Lieshout CEO Active Adventures source Active Adventures

The brands together offer more than 100 adventure trips worldwide. Active Adventures, founded in 1996, had specialized in hiking, biking, and kayaking experiences. Its most popular trip is a two week “ultimate South Island adventure,” in New Zealand. Before the pandemic, the majority of its guests hailed from North America. It has since focused on appealing to New Zealanders and Australians.

The two brands will remain intact for now. Austin Adventures’ content has become bookable on Active Adventures’ website and vice versa. Austin Adventures’ founder Dan Austin is becoming head of special projects.

The merged company partners with travel agents for sales, making all its tours commissionable and giving agents commissions on future bookings even if the customers book directly through Active Adventures.

Mark Traveller, chief financial officer for Active Adventures and a previous financial due diligence expert for KPMG’s deal advisory service, facilitated the transaction talks.

Recent tour company mergers have included Hornblower’s acquisition of Walks and Lindblad’s of DuVine. For more context, see Skift’s story from earlier this month: “UK Tour Operator Consolidation After Pandemic Struggles Could Signal More Mergers Globally,” as UK tour operators Cashel and Tiernan Travel merged earlier this year.

Tags: adventure tourism, adventure travel, experiences, mergers and acquisitions, new zealand, tour operators

Photo credit: A scene from an Active Adventures' "Patagonia Condor" group tour. Active Adventures, a tour operator based in Queenstown, New Zealand, has acquired Austin Adventures of Montana. Active Adventures