Anne Majumdar

A product overhaul saw Geckos Adventures grow in 2017 but it still has some way to go, according to Intrepid Group chief executive James Thornton.

In a bid to bolster its performance, the year saw the youth travel brand implement changes including the reduction of the age limit for travellers so that they fall within the 18-29 bracket – a difference of 10 years.

Turkey Cappadocia Geckos Adventures KarryOn

There was a fresh focus around social responsibility with a new partnership with Friends International which works with marginalised kids and young people.

Deposits were dropped from $250 to $100 with group sizes capped at 16, but averaging about nine to ensure that “true small group experience”.

Finally, the brand added 20 new trips in North America and Africa – new destinations for the brand to make it “truly global”. That expansion meant double the number of departures with all guaranteed.

Speaking to KarryOn about the group’s 2017 performance, Thornton said the overhaul had gone “ok” but admitted the brand, with single digit growth, was not growing at the same rate as Intrepid and Peregrine Adventures despite its smaller base.


Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton

However, he was confident that it is now on the right track thanks to the repositioning which clearly differentiates it from sister brands Intrepid and Peregrine.

“Changing the demographic from 18 to 39 removed about 30% of its customers so to get that growth is good,” he said.

“But single digit growth isn’t where we’d like it to be and so we’ll obviously place more focus around that sector.”

The next couple of years will see Thornton and his team give Geckos a “red hot crack” and then will look at whether their efforts have been successful.

“We’ve got to wait and see whether the brand continues to be really strong in its own right,” he said. “Only time will tell.”

Meanwhile, Intrepid and Peregrine were standout performers for the group in 2017, with both growing “just shy of 20%”. That growth helped Intrepid achieve record revenue growth of 17% in 2017.

Peregrine is working well because of innovation around the product with its new adventure cruising range a clear success, according to Thornton. The European summer saw 94% of Croatian charters filled.

Croatia-cruising-drone-shot Peregrine KarryOn

Strong sales across that range have given the company the confidence to launch Asia adventure cruising which will kick off in December.

The year also saw Peregrine sign a partnership with Chimu on polar cruising which has also been beneficial.

“We’ve also worked really hard on the Peregrine brand, making sure we’ve got the group size right, making sure we’ve got the experience right, making sure it ewas reflecting slightly more comfort or a premium type of adventure product,” Thorton reflected.

“As a result, it’s standing out really nicely and it’s still got really good price competitiveness against some of the other operators out there so it’s a great proposition.”

Meanwhile, immersive day tour operator Urban Aventures saw passenger growth of 65% in 2017 with 185,000 passengers.


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