Clive Jacobs entrepreneur & investor
Clive Jacobs is a serial entrepreneur and investor whose businesses have consistently challenged and disrupted established practices. He is well-known for building his company holiday autos into the world’s largest leisure car rental broker before its sale to lastminute.com
Clive is now the chairman and owner of the newly-formed Jacobs Media Group, Europe’s largest travel & hospitality b2b media business. The portfolio includes the market leading Travel Weekly brand and its impressive array of UK and international brands. The group also includes the 140-year-old trade bible The Caterer and its associated publications, awards and innovative digital solutions.
Clive is also co-owner and chairman of Tully Luxury Travel (formerly known as The Cruise Professionals), the largest, fastest-growing luxury retailer in North America.
Clive’s introduction to the travel industry came aged 19, when he started working as a messenger for a travel agent and tour operator. Prior to that, he had worked in construction, life assurance and even in the fish department at Selfridges, having left school aged 15.
After rising rapidly through the ranks, he decided to go it alone and, aged just 21, he set up his first travel company from an office in Kent while driving a taxi at night to supplement his income.
In March 1988, Clive co-founded holiday autos, the company credited with reinventing the car rental model with its pre-bookable, pre-paid fully inclusive product and its guarantee to better any like-for-like quote.
When his partners decided to explore a different direction in 1995, Clive brought in ECI Partners to assist him in buying the business and taking it to the next stage in its evolution.
Over the next 8 years, Clive and the holiday autos team built a company operating out of 30 countries worldwide and boasting a turnover in excess of £200 million. 70 awards in eight countries are testament to its service and innovation, including the first fully bookable car rental website – launched in 1999 and handling 80% of transactions globally by 2003.
In March 2003, holiday autos was acquired by lastminute.com, with Clive overseeing the integration of the businesses and the delivery of significant financial and worldwide infrastructure benefits as lastminute.com’s executive deputy chairman.
Jacobs Media Group
In August 2009, Clive made his first media investment by acquiring Travel Weekly and its associated events and brands including the Globe Travel Awards, Travolution and Gazetteers, from Reed Business Information. He set about transforming the business from a failing traditional b2b trade magazine, to a multi-faceted media and events business with global reach.
In 2010 Aspire became the first Travel Weekly launch under new ownership. Aspire is an exclusive club aimed at sellers of luxury travel. The brand has evolved to include a quarterly magazine, website and events portfolio.
In 2012, Clive expanded his business into the thriving UK hospitality sector with the purchase of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, also from Reed Business Information. The brand has been transformed under Clive’s ownership. In print, Caterer and Hotelkeeper was quickly re-named as “The Caterer” with a fresh design and the introduction of the “Best of Chef” and “Inside Hotels” supplements. At the same time, a new website www.thecaterer.com was launched.
In 2013 the prestigious Cateys Awards celebrated their 30th anniversary with the biggest event to date, they have continued to grow every year since. In 2014, the Foodservice Cateys was launched to recognise achievement and complete the Cateys portfolio along with the well-established Hotel Cateys. Elsewhere, the events portfolio has experienced exponential growth with the re-birth of “Chef Eats Out” and “Best Places to Work in Hospitality”, the rollout of the hugely successful Foodservice and Hotel Forum concepts, and the launch of annual HR & Digital Forums. The Caterer also partners with other organisations, co-presenting The Shine Awards, Restaurant Manager of the Year and the UK Sommelier of the Year awards – which Clive acquired from the British Institute of Innkeeping in April 2017.
In 2013, Clive announced the first of several acquisitions. The first of these was the purchase of Kingley Event Management and its successful brands; The Agent Achievement Awards, and the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame, which complemented the burgeoning Travel Weekly events portfolio.
At the same time, Travel Weekly continued to enhance its market leading position in a rapidly evolving media landscape – it now boasts the most experienced editorial team, strongest circulation and is the clear market leader both in terms of advertising share and web traffic.
In May 2014 Clive acquired Travel GBI – a monthly magazine focusing on inbound and group travel in the UK. Since then, the brand has enjoyed significant investment including a new website, complete magazine redesign and enhancement of the circulation.
In October 2014 Clive’s commitment to digital innovation was demonstrated by the launch of the first Beta product on the proprietary Podium technology platform.
Connecting Travel not only provides users with the ability to tailor their news feed based on their interests, but also enables them to set up special interest groups to debate issues, as well as profile their company to potential partners and employees, building their network of like-minded ‘connections’ as they interact.
Over the coming months Travel Weekly, Travel GBI and Travolution all migrated to the Podium platform.
Clive has always believed that both the travel and hospitality industries are built on human connections and mutual trust. In 2014 he launched two products with a distinctly global outlook. The first of these, Connecting Travel, backed by a digital platform, connects senior travel professionals, governments and service providers at industry events across the globe.
Also in 2014, Clive launched a completely new events concept called “Connections”. Connections is a unique and award-winning format, which seeks to create meaningful and lasting relationships between senior travel buyers and sellers. Connections events facilitate meetings and relationship-building through shared experiences that take place in some of the world’s most exclusive venues. The first Connections event took place in September 2014 at the Four Seasons in Hampshire. Since then, events have taken place in Spain, Portugal, China, Abu Dhabi, Italy, Thailand and Brazil.
In 2016 Clive launched Jacobs Media Group as a brand platform to showcase the expanding global and domestic reach of his travel and hospitality portfolios. The business is Europe’s largest travel & hospitality b2b media business reaching over 400k readers, web users and event delegates per annum.
On-going investment & innovation
Clive has invested in a number of start-up and later-stage businesses, and has acted as an advisor on several significant acquisitions with major banks and private equity firms.
His experience in the travel and hospitality sectors includes a period as chairman and co-owner of the Michelin-starred L’Ortolan restaurant in Berkshire, and more recently as owner of the Michelin-starred New Angel restaurant in Dartmouth.
In 2014 Clive took a stake in and became chairman of leading luxury cruise business The Cruise Professionals. He steered the business through diversification into the broader premium travel space and driving significant growth after a relatively flat period. As part of the process, the company was rebranded Tully Luxury Travel after its founder and CEO Mary Jean Tully, to reflect its expanded portfolio beyond cruising. It now offers world-class customer service through its three brands; Cruise Professionals, African Dreams and Private Travel Designers. In 2018 Clive became co-owner of the business along with founder, Mary Jean Tully.
Awards & Achievements
In a career spanning nearly four decades, Clive has amassed a large number of personal awards and accolades in recognition of his business achievement and entrepreneurial drive.
Clive becomes a founding Patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust
He was awarded the World Travel Market Global Award for outstanding contribution to UK Travel.
Clive was named ‘Director of the Year’ by Decision Magazine in association with PWC.
Clive was honoured alongside 20 other industry leaders, including Sir Richard Branson, at World Travel Market’s Tribute 21 list.
Clive was the youngest inductee to the prestigious Travel Industry Hall of Fame.
He was instrumental in forming one of the country’s first destination management organisations, Visit Devon, serving as its first chairman.
Clive was made an Honorary Fellow of The Tourism Society.
Speaking & Consulting
Clive provides thought leadership and keynotes at a number of industry conferences, think tanks and policy-making forums. He also takes a keen interest in mentoring and supporting young entrepreneurs.
To contact Clive please email: