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Intrepid Travel announced as Platinum Sponsor for Open Mindset event on sustainability transformation

Intrepid Travel is a proud Platinum Sponsor of Karryon’s second Open Mindset event, focused on a sustainability transformation within the travel industry. Karryon spoke to Brett Mitchell, Managing Director ANZ, about the company’s involvement and what it hopes attendees will come away with.

Intrepid Travel is a proud Platinum Sponsor of Karryon’s second Open Mindset event, focused on a sustainability transformation within the travel industry. Karryon spoke to Brett Mitchell, Managing Director ANZ, about the company’s involvement and what it hopes attendees will come away with.

Following the success of Karryon’s first Open Mindset event in Sydney on mental health, Karryon is taking the discussion to Melbourne on 26 June. This time, the topic of the day is the transformation that is collectively needed around sustainable and regenerative tourism across the entire industry. 

Signing on as Platinum Sponsors is leading responsible Australian tour company Intrepid. 

Speaking to Karryon from their Melbourne offices, Brett Mitchell spoke of the need for organisations to have a bigger impact with some of their activities and the importance of a collective industry approach. 

“We know more than anyone else that a single person or organisation can’t achieve that. We really need to make sure that we are making it as easy as possible for all of us to learn together. The more we can all share the information that we have to help push us forward as an industry, the more important it is,” said Brett.

“This event is just another great example of bringing the industry together and trying to learn together. We need to have more of these events to help each other and be open – and we think that’s what this event can achieve,” said Brett. 

On where the industry sits with this topic, he says there’s an incredible amount that we still need to do, recognising the complexities around the topic that may hinder industry progress.

“To be honest, I think we’re not where we want to be…. I think that’s probably fair. I know at Intrepid, even as an organisation, we’re unhappy with where we want to be. We know it’s hard, difficult and complex, and that’s probably what’s holding the industry back a bit… you may not know where to start. That’s why these events are so important because hopefully we can start to break things down and find and distil easy ways where all of us, no matter what our roles in the industry are, can play a part.”

“The reality is that the world is in a lot of trouble. It really is – when you look at climate change and the frequency and the magnitude of the natural disasters occurring in the world, and even just people and conflict. Travel and our industry can play a huge role. We’ve got a duty, we have to do it. And to be short about it, I don’t think we’ve done enough at this stage.”

Sharing information and getting ahead of regulation

The pressures on our industry are evident, with a lot of businesses still rebuilding after the pandemic, making it hard for many to go outside of their core business priorities and look at the bigger picture around sustainable transformation. 

“But we’ve got to realise that we’re not alone in this. We should see this as an industry-wide issue and we should be sharing information more.  Hopefully, that’s what this event can do. Some people have researched certain areas and have some great information to add; others have worked on other areas. Sustainability is quite a broad topic and there are so many different angles,” said Brett. 

“For example, we look at what Adventure World has been doing around wildlife protection and really harnessing and focusing on that, which is great to see. How can they use some of the expertise they’ve got there for the broader industry? At Intrepid, we’ve got a Climate Scientist on our books – so how can we leverage all of that research and what we’re doing for the broader industry? Those are the sorts of things that can really help create a bit more of a step change,” he said. 

Pointing towards a shift in attitude towards long-haul travel, legislation in Europe has seen governments preventing airfares for trips within 60-90 minutes of flying time, mandating that travellers need to take trains instead. There’s still a long way to go with sustainable aviation fuel and what airlines can do. Brett also spoke of the increase in highly detailed ESG reporting requirements for businesses to follow and a clamping down on greenwashing. 

“It’s going to come here too. As an industry, let’s not wait for governments to impose regulations – let’s start to get ahead and really lead before that happens,” he said. 

A mindset shift

Aside from Karryon’s Open Mindset event in Melbourne, which facilitates a forum and creates a space for sharing and collaboration, Intrepid hopes that attendees will also experience a shift in mindset. 

“It’s definitely a mindset change that can have an impact as an individual or even as a company that starts with small wins,” he said.

On the day, Intrepid plans to share examples of its small wins. 

“If you can suddenly just have small little wins, you can create a much bigger change. A mindset and cultural shift are pretty important. The intention is that everybody, no matter if you’re in marketing or sales, or you are the owner of a business, that you walk away with something tangible that you can take back to your business,” he said. 

“We also have very few opportunities for the industry to come together and learn from other businesses and take a moment because we’re all so busy. I think that’s probably the biggest barrier to sustainable growth because everyone gets so caught up in their day-to-day. This is one of those opportunities where I encourage people to come because you get to take that break, learn, and you will impact your own business,” he said.

Intrepid’s sustainable path

Brett says Intrepid’s focus on sustainability started from day one. The 34-year-old business was founded in Melbourne by two Australians.

“Their concept of small group adventure travel when they first started was around the idea that travel has to be used as a force for good and it has to go both ways. While you want to create an amazing experience for your customers, it also needs to be a good experience for the local communities you travel to. Ideally, you create itineraries so that when you visit destinations, you do that in consultation with the local communities,” he said. 

Intrepid was the first travel company to have its own responsible business department, become fully carbon neutral in 2010, and ban elephant riding and orphanage tourism. In 2020, it became the first global tour operator with verifiable science-based targets and is also a B Corp-certified business, achieving certification in 2018 after a two-and-a-half-year process.

“It’s really making sure that as a business, you’re looking after all your stakeholders: the environment, the local communities you visit, your suppliers and your customers – not just your shareholders. With B Corp, you’re audited….  that’s a pretty good test; it keeps us honest and makes us try to get better. It’s not just the Melbourne office, it’s around 40 global offices too,” he said. 

“As a result, the initiatives and innovation we’ve taken as a business because of that framework – it’s made us a better business,” he said. 

The Intrepid Foundation was started over 20 years ago and has raised over $15 million for charities. It supports 45 different foundation partners globally around environmental protection, wildlife protection, and gender equity. 

Intrepid will also unveil some additional resources for travel agents around this important topic at the event. 

Tickets to Karryon’s Open Mindset event in Melbourne on Wednesday, 26 June, are on sale now. From each ticket sale, $10 will be donated to one of the Intrepid Foundation’s charity partners, Country Needs People.