Anne Majumdar

It’s been just over a year since Intrepid Travel consciously uncoupled with TUI Group, putting an end to their PEAK Adventure Travel Group venture. So how is the company shaping up post-split?

Intrepid announced the decision to end the four-year partnership last July, with Intrepid’s co-founders Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester taking back full ownership of the portfolio of brands.

Geoff Manchester, Darrell Wade and James Thornton

Geoff Manchester, Darrell Wade and James Thornton

The Intrepid Group comprises Adventure Tours Australia, Geckos Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures, The Family Adventure Company and Urban Adventures.

Managing director James Thornton told KarryOn that sales have soared by 36% year on year across the group, with it on track to carry 300,000 passengers this year. He attributed the company’s renewed independence as a major “driver” of the increase. Whereas before, decisions were made in a “very corporate” environment, with plans presented to a board for approval, now the company has a great deal more freedom.

“Now we have an enormous amount more flexibility to implement the things we believe will drive growth,” he said.

“We’re a lot more nimble.”

He also attributed sales growth to the weakened Australian dollar which has prompted people to “gravitate away” from more expensive styles of travel and towards those with a “value-proposition” like Intrepid that still offer amazing experiences.

“We’re all on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and it’s not necessarily about having the best car, the best TV or the best house anymore – it’s actually about experience,” Thornton said.

“Especially in these days of Air BnB and Uber, it’s not about where you stay or what car you drive.”

In this experience-led environment, Thornton believes people want to brag about a recent trip to Antarctica or Costa Rica, and they want to share them with small groups of people as opposed to large coaches. This trend is working to Intrepid’s advantage, he says.

Image via Intrepid Travel

Image via Intrepid Travel

Furthermore, the fact that adventure travel is more mainstream than ever is attracting a broader demographic, with sales through the trade showing strong growth on the back of some robust partnerships and an “amazing” sales team.

In the past, some industry players have criticised PEAK, accusing it of damaging the adventure travel space.

But Thornton hit back at those critics, insisting it had been a positive experience despite the ultimate decision to leave. He confirmed that the relationship with TUI remains “really, really good” and highlighted the growth of the group under the partnership.

“Four years later, we came out of it with six brands, 17 destination management companies, carrying over 250,000 passengers,” he said.

“It’s been sensational for us.”

Have you ever had an amicable break-up?