WorldStrides, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the nation’s largest provider of supplemental educational student travel programs. Founded in 1967, WorldStrides has provided educational trips and accredited educational content to more than 4 million students and leads group travel programs to more than 80 countries, serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Carlyle Group acquired WorldStrides in 2011.

Although WorldStrides had grown significantly in the past decade, with the top line experiencing tremendous growth, bottom line results were not up to expectations. Carlyle Group introduced WorldStrides to Maven Associates. Carlyle knew that Maven could provide top tier consulting expertise and look at the opportunities with an “owner” mentality. It is sometimes the case that big opportunities are not part of the project scope.  But if your consultant looks at the business as though they owned it, they will surface those opportunities for consideration.

One such recommendation was to upgrade Worldstrides’ IT system. The system was a conglomeration of homegrown and sunsetting systems that had not received much investment in the previous two decades. Maven’s review estimated that significant cost savings could be unlocked with a migration to modern Saas platforms.   To execute, Maven assisted in hiring experts in IT strategy to help Worldstrides understand the best approach. Worldstrides is near completing this digital transformation with a new CRM, new financials system and better payment methods/processing.  The review also uncovered more risk with sunsetting systems and business continuity than was previously known.   Making this recommendation more valuable than initially estimated.

Maven also uncovered that the travel purchasing process at Worldstrides was inefficient. To streamline and improve efficiencies, Worldstrides centralized all domestic and international purchasing.   Maven also recommended a more robust and refined budgeting process and SG&A spend management system. 

Finally, one big discovery was for Worldstrides to take a broad review of its pricing approach and to hire a pricing expert. Since the Maven engagement, Worldstrides has implemented a structured annual process and strategy for reviewing pricing. 

As often happens with mid-market companies, Worldstrides knew they could improve their business, but was unsure of where the biggest opportunities for growth and savings resided within its system.  Maven was able to shine light on those areas that had slipped and then create a roadmap for discipline and rigor that enabled Worldstrides to see top line and bottom line growth. 

Since the Maven engagement, Worldstrides has increased revenue from ~$300M in 2014 to $600M in 2018. 

 To learn more about the Carlyle Group and Worldstrides, visit the Carlyle website.

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