Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (GORP.COM) , the outdoor recreation and adventure travel site, has secured its third round of financing.
Participants include previous investors BNP Paribas (Banque Nationale de Paris), Capstone Ventures, FD5 as well as several individual investors.
Only a month previous to this announcement, Preston Bealle was appointed to CEO and amid announcements of key partnerships. Together with the AOL association, these new business relationships are seen as defining steps in reaching profitability in the second quarter of 2002.
Bob Dorf, General Partner Marketing 1 to 1 Ventures and individual investor in each of GORP`s three fundraising rounds has recognised that “GORP.COM has exhibited the vision and leadership to fill a niche in one of the most dynamic areas of the travel industry,” . He goes on to state that “During the past year, GORP has tripled page views, increased its opt-in database to half a million names in only 6 months, and doubled travel sales quarter over quarter for the past year—in the middle of an economic downturn. We know we have a winner here, and are putting our financial resources behind them.”
The additional funding will be used to accelerate GORP`s increasingly effective database marketing initiatives and to support the implementation of new key partnerships established during the summer. The round will remain open for the next 90 days to allow time for ongoing negotiations to be completed with other investors.
“Travel is clearly the single best online business to be involved in now and for the next few years,” said Preston Bealle, CEO of GORP, “and packaged vacations, such as we provide, are the sweet spot of the online travel business in terms of margin and profitability. That puts GORP in a strong position as the industry leader in adventure travel. This investment will take the company to profitability in 2002.”
Analysts believe specialty online travel to represent a significant growth opportunity in the next several years. PhoCusWright, an independent Internet travel intelligence company, estimates the U.S. online travel marketplace has grown from nothing to more than $14 billion today. They estimate this industry to enjoy double-digit growth for the next three years. Within this growing market, selling specialty vacations online represents the travel industry`s greatest opportunity. According to these analysts, today, online sales of these complex and highly profitable products are very small, but long-term growth represents significant potential.
On average, GORP travel sales have enjoyed a 60% growth month over month from the previous year In some months, growth has exceeded 100% above the previous year. Page views have doubled across the board and key strategic partnerships are working to bring qualified buyers to the site. “We`ve developed a unique online resource,” added Bealle. “GORP has become the total source for the outdoor lifestyle. Because of that focus, we are well positioned to capitalize on this expanding marketplace.”
According to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), adventure travel is the fastest growing segment of the $425-billion leisure travel market. Another online travel industry analyst firm, Jupiter Communications, estimates the size of the on- and offline active travel market to be $40-50 billion in size and growing at a rate of 10 percent annually. However, the industry has achieved this size without the benefit of an efficient infrastructure to match outdoor enthusiasts with the right experiences, adventure tour companies and other consumers with similar tastes. GORP, well known for its robust outdoor content, has put that infrastructure in place and revolutionized the way adventure and active travel is researched and booked.
Started in 1995, GORP is the largest Web site dedicated to outdoor recreation and adventure travel drawing nearly 30 million page views per month. With nearly 250,000 pages, GORP offers a complete package of authoritative, award-winning content and a full-service active travel-booking feature with thousands of trips, accessible by the Web or telephone. GORP has been cited by Yahoo!, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many others, as the leader in this category and a “Best of the Web” site.