Intrepid’s Big Vision

Just over one-week on the job as the newly appointed CEO of the Intrepid Group, James Thornton – the first non-founding member to hold the gig – shared the story of how the trade played a vital role in getting the tour operator off the ground back in 1989, reports Ann Ruppenstein in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

“The first people that ever supported Intrepid were travel agents in Melbourne, and they helped support the business and have been a really critical part for growth of the business,” the 35-year old told Canadian Travel Press during a brief visit to Toronto.

“Still today the majority of our distribution comes through travel agents and that will continue under my leadership. Travel agents really are the hallmark and backbone of our company and what we do, and we have some really good strong partnerships here in the Canadian market,” Thornton continued.

While he’s new to the position, Thornton has been with the company for 12 years – moving up the ranks from a sales & marketing coordinator in the UK to holding dual roles as UK & Europe regional director and general manager global sales, to his most recent position as managing director of the Intrepid Group – and describes his vision for future growth as being about evolution and not revolution.

“It will very much be about continuing to do what we’re doing and doing it well – and doing it better I suppose,” he says.

“We have two key focuses – one is growing the market for what we call sustainable experience rich travel and then the second thing is operating a business that has a purpose beyond profit. So for us that means doing things above and beyond, which has less short term focus on financial results, and more long term focus on people and the planet. People will often want to book or buy products from companies that have really strong purposes, and that helps you grow and if you grow, you can do more things in the purpose space, so the two things are really nicely aligned.”

What started as Intrepid Travel, has since evolved into the Intrepid Group, a global multi-brand business, including Urban Adventures, Peregrine Adventures and Geckos Adventures, 19 destination management companies, and the not-for-profit The Intrepid Foundation, with 1600 staff across 27 offices.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.