London-based Big Bus Tours is continuing a program of growth and expansion into new markets with its acquisition last week of Boston-based Smart Destinations, which produces the Go City Card attraction passes.
Big Bus Tours, known for its double-decker open-top bus tours, was formed by the merger of two established sightseeing tour businesses. The Big Bus Company Ltd – based in London, and Les Cars Rouges, which was based in Paris. The two businesses created Big Bus Tours in May 2011. Before last week’s acquisition, the company’s portfolio included Abu Dhabi, Budapest, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Las Vegas, London, Miami, Muscat, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vienna and Washington DC.
With the Smart Destinations collection, Big Bus Tours expands into some new cities. Smart Destinations has operations in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Oahu, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and in other parts of Florida and California.
Pat Waterman (left, in above photo) CEO of Big Bus Tours, said that the acquisition “is truly a significant one. Smart Destinations is the leader in the attraction pass category, offering customers unbeatable value for money, access to some of the best attractions in the world and a very easy way to buy and redeem passes.”
Ted Stimpson (right, in above photo), CEO of Smart Destinations, indicated that Big Bus Tours complements the Smart Destinations product: “TBig Bus Tours is the perfect introduction to a city, guiding guests to the key places of interest. Go City Card passes provide a convenient and cost-effective way to pay for admission to those same top attractions. Together, we will deliver travelers to the gate and through the turnstile of the top paid attractions of the world.”
Another note: In February 2015, London-based Exponent Private Equity purchased Big Bus Tours, with a shared vision to develop the company into the most recognizable brand in sightseeing. This year Merlin Entertainments PLC became a shareholder, “offering a natural synergy with Big Bus Tours and Merlin attractions and experiences globally.” Merlin—it operates 124 attractions, 16 hotels and 3 holiday villages in 25 countries—is second only to Disney in the number of visitors it receives at its attractions, which include such famous brands as Legoland and Madame Tussauds.