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Clive Jacobs is a British businessman and entrepreneur.
He is best known for co-founding Holiday Autos Group, the first car rental broker in Europe, which he and his partners Nick Stolberg and Gary Bacon set up in 1988 and subsequently sold to lastminute.com plc. He is the owner and chairman of London-based publishing brands Travel Weekly (UK) and The Caterer.
Jacobs’ first jobs included stints on building sites and in the fish department at Selfridges. His first role in the travel industry was as a messenger for a travel company. By the age of 21 he had set up and become managing director of his own flight company.
In the late 1980s Jacobs and his partners spotted a gap in the car rental market, noticing that the sector was geared primarily for business travellers and not holidaymakers.
In 1987, Nick Stolberg and Gary Bacon founded Holicars and Sundrive. In 1988 they came together with Clive Jacobs and founded Holiday Autos, offering a pre-bookable, pre-paid, fully inclusive product that was the first company in the travel industry to offer a John Lewis-style price guarantee, pledging to be never knowingly undersold.
In 1995, Jacobs bought out his Holiday Autos partners with the assistance of ECI Ventures. Holiday Autos went on to become a significant global operation, with sales offices in 30 countries. In 1999 it launched the first fully transactional car rental website. By 2003, when the company was sold, it had won 68 awards in eight countries for both service and innovation.
Jacobs became known to the wider public when he and staff at Holiday Autos’ headquarters were the subject of a three-part BBC2 documentary, The Secret Life of The Office, broadcast in July 2002.
In 2003, Jacobs sold Holiday Autos to lastminute.com for £43 million.
Other business interests
In 2007, Jacobs took a 50% interest in freeads.co.uk, an online classified website.
Jacobs bought the Michelin-starred New Angel restaurant and rooms in Dartmouth, Devon, out of administration and reinstated John Burton Race as executive head chef. Jacobs and Burton Race had first worked together in 1992 when Jacobs was chairman and co-owner of L'Ortolan in Shinfield, Berkshire. In 2010 Jacobs sold the New Angel business to Richard Pursey and Alan Murchison of the 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group while retaining the premises.
In 2009, Jacobs founded Travel Weekly Group as a vehicle to acquire Travel Weekly (UK) and its associated brands gazetteers.com and Travolution and their websites and events portfolio from Reed Business Information (part of Reed Elsevier plc). He is chairman and owner of the group.
In 2012, Jacobs, along with former Thomas Cook executive and entrepreneur Terry Fisher, approached Thomas Cook Group, the second-largest holidays company in the UK, with £400 million of committed institutional shareholder funds for an emergency rescue of the group.
In the same year, Jacobs acquired Caterer and Hotelkeeper, also from Reed Business Information, operating it as a standalone but sister publishing operation to Travel Weekly Group. Both ventures are based in the same building in Victoria, London, UK.
In 2012, Jacobs' Travel Weekly Group acquired the Agent Achievement Awards, the leading travel agent awards programme, from Kingley Event Management, followed in 2014 by the acquisition of Kingley Event Management and its portfolio of events including the British Travel and Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame.
In 2013-14, Jacobs launched Connecting Travel, a dedicated online service for the global travel, tourism and hospitality community, and Connections, a portfolio of events to facilitate direct business relationships in the global travel industry.
In June 2014 he acquired travelGBI, the premier dedicated publication for the domestic travel and tourism sector in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Jacobs has won several industry accolades, including:
- World Travel Market Global Award – for outstanding contribution to the UK travel industry (1997)
- PwC and Decision Magazine Director of the Year Award (1999)
- World Travel Market Tribute 21 Award – for pioneering change in the travel industry over the previous 21 years (2000)
- Inducted into the UK travel industry’s Hall of Fame (2003)
- Honorary fellowship of the Tourism Society (2014)
Since 1993, Jacobs has been a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
In 2008, Jacobs was appointed the first chairman of Visit Devon, a newly formed destination management organisation responsible for promoting Devon to the world.
- "British Film Institute TV Database". 2002.
- "BBC News Channel Lastminute buys car hire firm". March 26, 2003.
- "Western Morning News Sharing the secrets of success with a millionaire and 'born entrepreneur'". December 7, 2010.
- Mason, Rowena (July 9, 2009). "The Telegraph Holiday Autos founder picks up travel unit from Reed Elsevier". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "The Times When even £400m fails to bring sunshine". March 16, 2012.
- "Press Gazette Caterer and Hotelkeeper sold to owner of Travel Weekly Group". October 17, 2012.
- "The Tourism Society "Clive Jacobs made an honorary Fellow of the Tourism Society". February 26, 2014.
- "This is South Devon Jacobs takes chair to promote Devon". September 12, 2008.