TORONTO — The Intrepid Group’s industry sales are up 27% out of Canada so far this year. More than 50% of the Intrepid Group’s sales come from the trade so there’s still room for growth, says Nick Shuttleworth, Vice-President, Industry Sales – The Americas.
“We value travel agents, to a massive degree,” said Shuttleworth. “They’re part of our strategy and we’re increasing our team to support that.”
The Intrepid Group recently hired a second BDM based in Toronto. It also added a marketing person focused specifically on the industry.
The group doesn’t do much by way of advertising; it mostly relies on word of mouth. Intrepid Group handled 250,000 passengers last year, across four brands – Geckos, Intrepid, Peregrine and Urban Adventures. Geckos is for younger adventurers, while core brand Intrepid “is the heartbeat of the company”, says Vice-President – North America, Leigh Barnes. Peregrine is a premium adventure product and Urban Adventures, the fastest growing brand of the four, offers day trips. “We’ve got the life cycle of an adventure traveller. From 18 to 80 years old, from two hours to 365 days, whatever you want, we have it,” said Barnes.
You read that right: 365 days. Intrepid’s aptly-named ‘365 Day Adventure’ takes clients just about everywhere in the world, except Europe, over the course of an entire year. Visiting 34 countries, from A (Argentina) to Z (Zimbabwe), it costs US$75,000. “When you consider that you’re not paying rent, and you’re not paying bills, it’s actually not that expensive,” said Shuttleworth.
The Intrepid Group has built its reputation and its product on several core strengths: local leaders, responsible travel and real life experiences. “We run our own local DMCs and that allows us to have greater control over our product. It drives customers back to us,” says Barnes. “Wanting to own that local experience, that’s core to our brand.” The group gives back to its destinations through The Intrepid Foundation and raised some $500,000 for recovery efforts in Nepal. “Purpose before profit,” adds Barnes.
Barnes and Shuttleworth say they’re not concerned that ‘adventure’ is becoming a diluted travel concept, as so many companies jump on the bandwagon. And adventure doesn’t have to be involve Outward Bound-style feats of strength. “Adventure is whatever you want it to be. It could be sailing in Cuba or walking through Italy,” said Shuttleworth.
He adds that the group has high hopes for its Peregrine brand in North America. New offerings like Peregrine’s Gourmet Traveller trips in Europe and Southeast Asia come with “premium accommodation and amazing food”. Wildlife, family and sailing themed trips also do very well. The Intrepid Group also has a private groups product.