Intrepid Travel has snatched up a 50 per cent stake in polar and Latin America specialists, Chimu Adventures, as the thirst for adventure travel continues to grow.
The strategic partnership between the two independently-owned Australian companies will see the pair become one of the largest sellers of travel to Antarctica from down under, and a major Polar player on a global scale.
Image L-R: Chimu co-founder Greg Carter, Intrepid CEO James Thortnon, and Chimu co-founder Chad Carey.
Speaking to Travel Weekly, Intrepid CEO James Thornton said the companies have been in talks since early 2017, with Chimu experts in FIT and tailor-made travel.
Chimu also operates three South American destination management companies (DMCs), which falls under the 50 per cent investment umbrella, and was another drawcard for Intrepid’s venture, enabling both to expand their global network of local DMCs.
The deal also includes a 50 per cent stake in Chimu Adventures, Get About Asia, and three sales offices in the United Kingdom, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast.
“We’re not huge in polar regions and wanted to expand in Latin America, so we could see real synergies with Chimu,” Thornton said.
One of Chimu’s co-founders, Greg Carter, told TW, “Traditionally we’ve been more direct with consumers in our operations, whereas Intrepid have strong industry partnerships.
“We hope to leverage off those partnerships.
“As we all know, there’s been a lot of consolidation in the travel industry lately, so this gives us the strength to future-proof ourselves.”
The addition of Chimu’s $30million business will add close to 10 per cent of revenue to the Intrepid Group, which is already in excess of $300 million.
The Melbourne-based Intrepid Group, which employs 1600 staff in 27 offices, is now the world’s largest provider of adventure travel experiences.
But it was never an objective to swallow up Chimu Adventures into the Intrepid group, with Thornton claiming it was the “expertise of Greg and [co-founder] Chad Carey” that interested Intrepid most.
“We’ve seen cases where big companies buy and absorb smaller companies, and you lose the soul of the business. Chimu complements our business, so you won’t see an integration of brands.”
Carter added, “We’re very different brands, and we’re keen to remain independent”.
Meanwhile, Carey said, “We want to try and keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive, and with this, we’re just responding to the market.”
Intrepid has seen its own integration into a brand in the past, being part of the TUI Group, before splitting from them and regaining independent ownership about two years ago, when the original founders of Intrepid Travel bought back the company after a shareholder split.
However, one priority that has been agreed for the new joint venture partnership is to launch a range of charter cruises to the Arctic and Antarctica.
“Together, we will be one of the largest sellers of Antarctica travel in Australia and an important player in the Polar market globally,” Thornton said.
“We’ve just launched a new Adventure Cruise range and it’s growing rapidly, so it is our intention to expand in to polar charters as part of this cooperation.”
“We share many common ideas on sustainable travel and we believe it’s a perfect fit for both businesses,” added Carter.
Carey commented, “Greg & I are very excited about this new partnership, not just in terms of the synergies and growth potential, but also the prospect of being able to share such a fantastic opportunity with such similarly culturally aligned organisation.”
While the partnership is motivated by the potential growth opportunities for both Intrepid and Chimu and that the companies have many similarities including a network of local destination management companies, Thornton says it was shared values and culture that sealed the deal.
“We’re delighted to work with Chad and Greg in a true partnership which will be mutually beneficial,” he said.
“Sustainable experience rich travel is seeing phenomenal growth globally and Chimu are market leaders in tailor-made travel, which is one of the fastest growing parts of the sector and currently only 10% of our business.”
The contract was signed on Friday, and the new partnership is effective immediately.