Eric Grosse, the new CEO of Inspirato [Credit: Inspirato]

Inspirato names new CEO and closes $25m investment

US: Luxury travel subscription brand Inspirato has appointed current board member Eric Grosse as its new CEO to take over from founder and current incumbent CEO, Brent Handler.

Handler steps down after 13 years serving as CEO, while Grosse is a former president of Expedia worldwide and co-founder and president of Expedia Group-owned travel website Hotwire.

It is the second big reshuffle in Inspirato’s ranks in the last three months after the company parted company with its chief strategy and former chief financial officer [CFO], Webster Neighbor, in July.

At the same time, Inspirato has announced the closing of its $25 million funding via a convertible note investment from Capital One Ventures. News of the investment was first announced in early August, although Inspirato stakeholders only voted to approve the investment on 26 September.

The investment is set to provide “broad operating flexibility” to Inspirato as it sets out to deliver unique luxury vacations for its members and guests.

Grosse said: “We’re incredibly excited to commence this strategic partnership with Capital One Ventures. The investment supports Inspirato’s long-term profitability goals while ensuring our existing and future members continue to benefit from our first-class service and certainty while experiencing the ultimate luxury vacations.”

It marks the latest stage in a rocky period for Inspirato.

A couple of weeks before the investment news first became public, the subscription brand announced its second round of job cuts this year, having laid off around 50 team members [around six per cent of its team] in July, following a 12 per cent team reduction in January. Departments affected by the cuts included tech, business intelligence and human resources divisions, as Jeff Hartman, executive vice president of marketing at Inspirato, called the cuts a “right-sizing” of the business.

In December, Inspirato reported a net loss of $7.3 million at its Q3 quarterly earnings call, at which point the company attributed the losses to rising operating expenses and slower than anticipated signups to Inspirato’s subscription-based service Pass, which is designed to offer subscribers more flexibility, added value and over one million trip options in more than 100 destinations worldwide, and debuted in 2019.

That was followed up by a net loss of $5.9 million in Q1 of this year, although it was a significant improvement on the $24 million loss recorded 12 months prior.

In February 2022, the private travel club closed its business combination with special purpose acquisition company [SPAC] Thayer Ventures Acquisition Corporation and began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, secured more than $100 million in net proceeds and reaching an initial valuation of approximately $1.1 billion in the process.

Since then, Inspirato’s share price on the Nasdaq has plummeted from a high of $3.60 at the start of March 2022 to a current figure of $0.026 at the time of writing.

Inspirato manages a portfolio of hand-selected vacation options, included branded, controlled luxury vacation homes available exclusively to subscribers and guests, accommodations at five-star hotel and resort partners, and custom travel experiences.

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