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“Great companies need to step up”: Intrepid CEO talks transparency and corporate responsibility

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

To say Intrepid had a good year in 2018 would be somewhat of an understatement.

The adventure travel company released its second-ever integrated annual report, marking its third year of record revenue growth, profit growth and improved customer satisfaction.

Intrepid achieved 18 per cent gross revenue, at $402 million and an EBITDA result of $16.1 million (up from 22 per cent from 2017) and more than 430,000 passengers carried across its brands.

But financials are just one part of Intrepid’s integrated annual report, which is part of its commitment as a certified B Corp to transparency and public accountability.

“In 2018 we won some serious awards, but the best one by far was becoming a certified B Corp,” Intrepid CEO James Thornton said addressing Intrepid employees from around the world at the company’s Global Summit in Melbourne last week.

“This achievement was three years in the making. It touched every aspect and every part of our business. It helps us focus on not just being the best travel company in the world, but being the best company for the world.”

Intrepid CEO James Thornton with key note speaker Mina Guli
Intrepid CEO James Thornton with keynote speaker Mina Guli

While 2018 saw loads of product innovation for Intrepid, with the launch of their Women’s Only Expeditions and Polar Charters just to name a few, Thornton said innovation goes beyond product, it goes into the company’s purpose.

According to the report, The Intrepid Foundation disbursed $1.15 million in 2018.

“We’re making a commitment this year to become the world’s first climate positive travel company, where we talk about carbon in a negative sense,” he said.

“We want to change the agenda and we will focus on becoming the world’s first climate positive travel company.

“Secondly, we’ll focus on putting one per cent revenue towards purpose by 2020. It’s that type of innovation beyond product that’s going to be really important for us. It’s the innovation of our business model.”

According to the report, Intrepid will carry 450,000 customers all over the world this year, with two million people visiting its websites each month. 

By 2025, those numbers are expected to double, seeing the adventure travel company carrying more than a million customers a year and close to five million people visiting their websites.

As Thornton pointed out, that size and scale dwarfs some small countries.

“But as a business, unlike a country, we actually cross many borders. We’re global in nature and I believe therefore that we can have as much potential for impact as any politician in the world,” he said.

“People in the world can no longer rely on politicians alone to make decisions that benefit people and the planet. Great companies need to step up.

“We’re doing great things with our foundation but we have to do more. And intrepid as a platform has an opportunity to make an amazing difference.”

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