Experience specialist Not In The Guidebooks is targeting more trade partnerships after successfully unlocking a £250,000 investment via a crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign was launched in the summer with a target of £100,000 and raised £125,000, allowing it to qualify for matched funding from the government under the Future Fund scheme.

Carol Savage, founder and managing director, said more than 200 investors contributed to the total, ranging from agents making relatively small contributions to “five or six” trade investors who took larger stakes.

Those who invested received a range of immediate benefits depending on the size of their investment, including access to preferential rates for their own travel and early access to products and tours.

Savage said the funding would be used to expand Not In The Guidebooks’ product offering, create a broader content programme with trade partners and improve the company’s technology, including the development of an app to allow real-time availability and in-destination bookings.

She added that Not In The Guidebooks aimed to become “the world’s favourite provider of authentic experiences” and said agency relationships would play a key part in its expansion.

Not In The Guidebooks specialises in experiences in a range of destinations that support local communities and offer alternatives to established tourist excursions.

It currently has relationships with agencies including Hays Travel, Midcounties and Spear Travels, and offers excursions that can be added to existing bookings or longer experiences that agents can build packages around.

Savage said: “I am really proud that we not only hit our fundraising target, but exceeded it with agents’ involvement in the middle of a pandemic and what has been such a difficult time for the industry.

“We have a range of trade investors who believe in what we are doing, and we have signed partnerships with a number of travel agencies that are really interested in providing something different and authentic for their customers and creating something really positive for when people start travelling again.”

She added: “A lot of agents are using our experiences and adding them to packages, but we also have a range of mini-breaks that agents can create a package around.

“We want to continue to develop these relationships. A lot of experience providers are based in countries such as the US and Australia but we have a vision to be a real leader from the UK. We want to become known as the world’s favourite provider of authentic local experiences.”