WorldStrides Case Study Header


Consumer & Retail
United States
Carlyle U.S. Equity Opportunity Fund
Carlyle U.S. Growth Fund III

About WorldStrides and the Transaction
WorldStrides Holdings LLC, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a provider of supplemental educational student travel programs. The Company leads group travel programs to more than 100 countries on six continents and serves approximately 400,000 students annually. Founded in 1967, WorldStrides has provided educational trips and accredited educational content to more than four million students across a broad range of academic levels from elementary through graduate school. The Company is the only student travel organization in the United States to be accredited by all six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Department of Education.

Carlyle invested in WorldStrides in October 2011 alongside its founder and CEO as well as other key management members. Carlyle saw the opportunity to provide resources and support to the Company so that it could continue to provide superior service to teachers, parents and students while expanding upon its position as the largest and most trusted educational travel service provider by further penetrating its core domestic travel markets, introducing new programs and expanding internationally. The Company executed on each of these initiatives and over the course of Carlyle’s investment, WorldStrides expanded from serving approximately 200,000 students across 4 major product lines to serving over 400,000 students annually through 7 major product offerings. In February 2016 Carlyle completed the sale of WorldStrides to Metalmark Capital and Silverhawk Capital Partners. 

Major Value Creation Initiatives

Identified and Implemented Operating Initiatives: Carlyle engaged operating partners (including Dennis Liberson and Sam Sliman) and several consulting firms to help WorldStrides identify and implement initiatives such as the global deployment of WorldStrides’ leading sales methods, the optimization of program pricing, various cost saving measures and a complete upgrade of WorldStrides’ IT infrastructure.

Expanded and Reinforced Management Team: With the help of CEOF Operating Advisor Dennis Liberson, WorldStrides attracted a new President, CFO, EVP of Large Group Travel, VP of Process Improvement, Chief Marketing Officer, China President, and realized significant gains in its sales and marketing organization. John Harris, former Carlyle Group CFO, also served as a member of the Board of Directors.

Launched WorldStrides China: With on-the-ground support from the Carlyle Asia Growth Partners team, WorldStrides developed an organic market entry strategy in China, opening their first office in 2012 and launching a business that grew at approximately 50% annually, serving Chinese students traveling to western countries.

Executed Global M&A Strategy: Completed 10 strategic acquisitions in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia that now contribute a total of $25 million in annual EBITDA. During Carlyle’s ownership period, the Company increased revenue from $235 million to a run rate of more than $580 million, and increased international revenues from approximately 10% to approximately 30% of the business.