Adventure vacation company Black Tomato is adding an office in New York after setting up shop in 2005 in its original location in London. Tom Marchant, one of three founders of the travel company, will be moving to the US to oversee the expansion.
Marchant, and his co-founders Matt Smith and James Merrett began Black Tomato to bring a bit of adventure and excitement to the vacation marketplace. The move to New York is part of a business plan to enlarge its client base plus forge deals with other companies to gain the status of a lifestyle brand.
Last year Black Tomato organized 2,965 dream vacations earning $16 million in revenue for their trouble. The 60-person employee base arranges such custom-made adventures as trips to Iceland’s tectonic plates, volcanoes in Costa Rica and the outback of Kenya. The growing appeal of such adventures seems to be on the rise; Black Tomato’s 2013 earnings were up by 30 percent over 2012.
Part of the secret of the firm’s success was actually setting a limit on the number of destination choices the company offered its clients, reducing the number of countries they sent customers to 40 last year, compared to 89 countries the year before.
“What we did at the start of last year, which I think had a big impact, was slim down the amount of product we were offering,” Marchant explained. “Sometimes when you offer people the world – literally, in this case – it can actually be hard to determine where they want to go.”
Marchant says he will make an exception if a client has a desperate desire to visit a country that is not on his list.
About five years ago Marchant started to see more clients from the USA. Now Americans comprise about 40 percent of his clients. Black Tomato has not marketed to a US audience; he says most of his US customers were referred to him by word of mouth.
“The opportunity to be the first to do things or to really get off the beaten track resonated with a lot of people over here both on the east coast and the west coast,” says Marchant.
Marchant is betting that now is the time to leverage his company’s growing popularity and pursue his business more aggressively in the US.